Obstacles to Recovery from Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders
The concern of ergonomics is optimization of the task suit the person, thereby avoiding excessive fatigue, discomfort or stress. The aim is to reduce the risk of injury or ill health and improve efficiency. This aim, while laudable, has not been fully realized for musculoskeletal disorders (MSD). Taking the example of low back trouble, the experience in most modern societies is that, despite a general improvement in working conditions and a reduction in spinal loading, the prevalence of back-related disability has been increasing exponentially over the past few decades. A similar pattern is reported for upper limb disorders. That is not to say that ergonomics has failed, rather that it may not be addressing the real determinants of disability associated with MSD; it is the disability that is the costly concern for society.