A new study published inThe Journal Timesfinds that women suffer from musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) at almost twice the rate of men. These disorders include problems affecting the muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments.

While carpal tunnel syndrome is among the most common MSD, women also suffer from higher instances of disorders affecting the neck, shoulders and upper back. The doubling of MSD prevalence in women held true even when the results were adjusted for the work people did and their exposure to a particular situation.

The issue of MSDs is particularly significant in extended-hours operations, where such disorders are more prevalent than in day-only operations due to a number of ergonomic factors, says Brian E. O’Neill of Circadian Technologies. As an increasing number of women enter the extended-hours workforce, little has been done to modify tools and workstations that were originally designed for men, who are generally larger and physically stronger.

Compounding the issue is that women by and large still assume most of the responsibilities for housekeeping and child care. All of this takes a toll, which in turn leads to higher workers’ compensation claims, increased absenteeism and lowered productivity.

Businesses, O’Neill suggests, can take such actions as promoting frequent “stretch breaks” to relieve muscle tension, or consider options for scheduling or workplace redesign.