A Plain English Guide To British Employment Law

Safe manual work

Safe manual work

There are many hazards that you might come across while doing manual work. Find out what the most common hazards are and how you can reduce your risk of injury at work by ensuring that you practice safe manual work.

Musculoskeletal Disorders (eg. repetitive strain or RSI)

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are the most common kind of work-related illness in the UK, and include problems like lower back pain, joint injuries and repetitive strain injuries. Most MSDs can be avoided if you know what causes them and how to protect yourself.

What are the causes of MSDs (eg. repetitive strain or RSI)?

MSDs can be caused by:

  • repetitive and heavy lifting
  • bending and twisting, or repeating something too often
  • working in an awkward or uncomfortable position
  • using too much force
  • working too long without breaks
  • working in extreme conditions, for example too hot or cold
  • using defective, worn or the wrong tools for the job
  • not dealing with symptoms quickly enough

Employment law: how can MSDs be prevented?

Most importantly, you need to make sure you are properly trained in how to:

  • use tools and equipment safely
  • handle heavy or awkward loads

You should also make sure that you:

  • take regular breaks
  • vary your work to reduce repetitive tasks

If you think you are suffering from a MSD, make sure you:

  • report symptoms to your employer as soon as they develop, for employment law purposes
  • get the right treatment
  • are allowed enough time to recover properly