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. 

See HSE research report into MSDs in Construction, Healthcare and Transportation.  

The HCLG will focus on the key areas of promoting good mental health, the prevention of respiratory disease, the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders

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 Working 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 George Mosey of Laing O' Rourke.

In the group's recent meeting (June 2021), the following 3 initiatives were identified as short/medium term aims:

  1. Production of a MSD awareness educational video

  2. Promote the HSE’s – ‘Risk reduction through design’ award to drive the MSD agenda. HSE's 'Risk-Reduction through design' Award

  3. Weight limits illustrated (potentially via QR codes) on all manufactured/supplied componentry/materials to provide absolute clarity to end users


New British Gypsum Case Study on their approach to MSDs

Read here.

Plasterboard Material Handling Working Group

As a sub-group of the Health in Construction Leadership Group, the role of the Plasterboard Material Handling Group was 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.

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


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