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Musculoskeletal disorders

Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are one of the most commonly reported causes of occupational ill health in Great Britain.

They include disorders of the back, upper limbs and lower limbs, the former two being the most common. MSDs are prevalent in all sectors but agriculture, fisheries, logistics and transport, construction and health and social care have significantly higher than average rates. Both physical and psychosocial factors can contribute to work-related MSDs, and they can be aggravated by people's activities outside work and their general health and fitness.

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Knowing what guidance to follow isn't always straightforward, so you can navigate the tabs below to help you choose what is best for your organisation.

Entry level

Risk assessment level

Legal guidance/reference level


NEBOSH HSE Certificate in Manual Handling Risk Assessment. A one-day qualification, based on HSE's best practice guidance and tools. This course will equip you with the knowledge to help recognise, assess and reduce manual handling risks in your organisation.

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Assessment. This course will equip you with the knowledge and tools to recognise, assess and reduce musculoskeletal disorders risks (manual handling and upper limb disorders) in your organisation. The training covers the suite of MSD risk assessment approaches including:

  • The Manual Handling Assessment Charts (MAC tool) for lifting, carrying and team handling tasks.
  • The Risk Assessment for Pushing and Pulling (RAPP tool) for pushing/pulling tasks.
  • The Assessment of Repetitive Tasks (ART tool) for upper limb intensive activities such as packaging, manufacturing, food preparations, etc.

These tools will help you understand and prioritise levels of risk of known ergonomics risks factors associated with manual tasks. Visit for more information.

Entry level

Risk assessment level

Legal guidance/reference level

Upper limb disorders in the workplace HSG60. Available in print and online.

MSD Online Assessment Tool / Manual Handling Assessment Tool

All-in-one digital solution for the well renowned MAC tool.

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Also available from the HSE:

Manual Handling

INDG269 Managing musculoskeletal disorders in checkout work: A brief guide (PDF)

INDG171 Managing upper limb disorders in the workplace: A brief guide PDF (PDF)

INDG439 Reducing manual handling risks in carpet retail (PDF)

INDG398 Making the best use of lifting and handling aids (PDF)

Online tutorial on how to use the Manual handling assessment chart (MAC) tool

HSG196 Moving food and drinks: Manual handling solutions for the food and drinks industries (PDF)

Roll cages and wheeled racks


Picking up the pieces: Prevention of musculoskeletal disorders in the ceramics industry (PDF)

General Guidance

Management of Health and Safety at Work

Workplace Health, Safety and Welfare