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European Week for Safety and Health at Work 2020 put the focus on MSDs

The 2020 edition of the European Week for Safety and Health at Work saw events taking place across Europe and beyond. The week was a big success thanks to the support and involvement of many different players. This included all our campaign partners and even some high-level representatives, like the Slovenian Minister for Work, who was active on Twitter during the week.


The week was special for a number of reasons. First, many national focal points used this opportunity to launch the Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load campaign in their countries. They were supported by our network of official campaign partnersmedia partners and OSH ambassadors from the Enterprise Europe Network, who also showed their commitment to raise awareness of how to prevent and manage musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).

Second, given the difficult circumstances surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, our campaign partners went to great lengths to ensure events could take place in safe and secure environments and settings. And lastly, the impact and engagement on social media was fantastic – particularly on Twitter (check this meaningful summary).

Events across Europe

Campaign launch events took place in many countries, including in Austria and Spain, where EU-OSHA’s Executive Director, Dr. Christa Sedlatschek, presented the campaign by video.

The Slovenian focal point organised an online seminar featuring 22 medical experts to discuss how employers can prevent workers from developing MSDs along with common problems such as fibromyalgia and inflammatory rheumatic disorders.

A key part of preventing MSDs among workers is striking a safe balance between work and recovery. This was the topic at hand during an online seminar organised by the Swedish focal point where experts discussed how physical work such as heavy lifting, strenuous working postures and repetitive actions can increase the risks of MSDs.

In North Macedonia, three companies were awarded for the best OSH practice of the year at a launch event. The European Week reached as far as Turkey, where the Directorate General of Occupational Safety and Health organised a webinar to raise awareness of the topic of MSDs and to support the campaign.

MSDs research in the spotlight

Another highlight of the week was EU-OSHA’s webinar on the key findings from its multiannual research programme on work-related musculoskeletal disorders, the results of which were carried forward into the campaign.

Some revealing findings presented included the gender dimension in OSH, highlighting how MSDs affect women differently. For example, women are more likely than men to report MSD disorders in upper limbs, lower limbs or the back. And this is true in among all sectors and occupations[1]. And did you know that prolonged sitting is the most prevalent MSD-related risk factor in EU establishments?[2]

Other presentations included research into how policy actions can aid MSDs prevention; the relationship between psychosocial risks and MSDs; MSDs prevention in agriculture; and good practice in managing chronic MSDs.

Join the fight to reduce MSDs

With the campaign less than a month in, now’s the perfect time to get involved if you haven’t yet done so. Prevention is the priority area until the end of year, so check out the ‘Recommended resources for you’ section that you can easily share with your networks.

You can also check the events page to see what upcoming campaign-related events you might like to participate in. Finally, don’t forget to follow the campaign on the website and on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for the latest information.

[2] Source: EU-OSHA  based on ESENER 2014 and ESENER 2019. (ESENER – European Survey of Enterprises on New and Emerging Risks)