Scand J Work Environ Health 1999;25 suppl 4:5-12    pdf

Possibilities for regulatory actions in the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders

by Kilbom Å

This review argues that there is a need for regulatory action against work-related musculoskeletal disorders. Designing such regulation is fraught with problems, such as insufficient knowledge about mechanisms and exposure-dose-response relationships, and lack of consensus on definitions. The multifactorial character of the disorders, especially risks involving work organization, further increases the problems. Nevertheless, regulation is necessary because of the poor results of voluntary prevention and the large costs of these disorders. Some major regulations are reviewed, and it is argued that there is insufficient scientific support for quantitative regulations proposed for some European norms. The recent Nordic ergonomic regulations for the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders is a step forward, since they succeed in providing guidance, including some on work organizational issues, with only few quantitative measures. Researchers should become more involved in these activities, and priorities in future research that would benefit a more scientific approach to ergonomic regulation are indicated.