This year’s European Week for Safety and Health at Work 2007 campaign, running Oct. 22-26, titled “Lighten the Load,” is dedicated to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). The aim of the campaign is to support employers, workers, safety representatives and other stakeholders in improving MSD prevention.

MSDs are the most common form of ill-health disorders at work throughout Europe, according to the UK’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE). Work-related MSDs affect 1.0 million people in Great Britain alone each year. Problems include back pain, work-related neck and upper limb disorders (ULDs), including repetitive strain injuries and lower limb disorders. Raising awareness, prevention and management are all key factors in reducing MSDs, says HSE.

As part of European Week, HSE is working with the Trade Union Congress (TUC) to provide safety representatives with several regional training events on MSDs, together with Web-based MSD checklists. Training will be given in assessing both manual handling risks and ULD-related risks. This training is part of HSE’s 2007/08 Better Backs campaign, which focuses on:

• preventing manual handling and ULD-related injuries in the workplace through sensible precautions;

• promoting the benefits of staying active with back pain (often the best therapy);

• prompting employers and employees to work together to get people with back pain back into normal activities.

For more information on European Week, visit