Musculoskeletal Disorders

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most commonly reported cause of ill health in construction. Each year around 80000 construction workers suffer from an illness they believe was caused or made worse by their work and over 50000 of these are MSDs.


They often have serious life-changing consequences affecting an individual's ability to work and their quality of family life too.


MSDs in Great Britain therefore remain a work related ill health related condition that places significant burdens on employers and employees accounting for 39% of all work-related ill-health.

An estimated 8.9 million working days were lost due to MSDs in 2016/17 – amounting to 35% of all working days lost. 

The construction industry has a long history of higher rates of MSDs due to the physical nature of working in that industry. Plasterers, bricklayers and joiners are trades frequently cited within construction at high risk and are often needing to retire or change jobs early. (EU –OSHA, 2015).

In our bid to eradicate ill-health and disease from our industry, and in accordance with HSE's Health and Work strategy, MSDs will be one of our key areas of focus for the coming months and years. 

The HCLG will focus on the key areas of promoting good mental health, ‘healthy design’, the prevention of respiratory disease, the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders, and the provision of quality health data for the industry

Our priorities

Every year, 50,000 construction workers each year suffer from a musculoskeletal disorder caused by their work.


The HCLG's approach to musculoskeletal disorders
HCLG Task Group

We plan to work with the industry to raise standards in preventative approaches to MSDs, sharing good practice and guidance and raising awareness of what the main issues are, and how to address these.


We have set up a HCLG working group to focus on this issue, Chaired by - Ian Strudley of Balfour Beatty.

Task Group Meeting Minutes

See the latest update from from this task group from June 2019. 

If you would like to be involved in this HCLG initiative, Ian can be reached at

Plasterboard Material Handling Working Group

As a sub-group of the Health in Construction Leadership Group, the role of the Plasterboard Material Handling Group is to help unify the plasterboard industry in its approach to worker health protection, to include healthy design, safe and healthy installation, and the promotion, adoption and implementation of best practice processes and initiatives.

The overall vision of the Health in Construction Leadership Group is an industry free from ill-health and disease. In line with this, the Plasterboard Material Handling Group strives to ensure the health and wellbeing of dry-lining operatives is protected, in order that new cases of ill-health and disease amongst this workforce are eradicated, and the attractiveness of this as a construction occupation is enhanced. 

This Group has produced a new Best Practice Guide to Plasterboard handling (September 2020) - access the guide here


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Committing Construction to a Healthier Future.

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