A strategic MSD prevention tool for municipalities

Kasper Edwards*, Christine Ipsen

*Corresponding author for this work

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Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are a common designation for pain, stiffness or tenderness in the joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles or bones and the associated cardiovascular and nervous system often resulting in symptoms as swelling, restriction of motion and functional impairment. This project is a result of a collaboration between the sector work environment council for the social and health care sector (BAR SOSU) and researchers at the Department of Management at
DTU. The purpose of this paper is to present a strategic MSD prevention tool synthesized from an exploratory study of best practice in Danish municipalities.
All 98 Danish municipalities were contacted for a telephone interview focusing on the top administrative level of the elder care in municipalities – the chief of elderly care. Three municipalities were selected for in-depth interviews as they were characterised as nuanced and insightful in their continuous work environment effort as well as reaching their improvement goals. The three municipalities also represented three different organisational approaches to organising their continuous work environment effort. The data and insights from the interviews formed the base for the development of a strategic prevention tool.
The strategic prevention tool
The developed strategic prevention tool consists of two volumes: 1) a method (Edwards et al.2016a) and 2) a tool box with seven tools for reducing MSD (Edwards et al. 2016b). The method assumes an organizational setup where a central authority is responsible for coordinating and evaluating the over-all working environment effort. In the context of Danish municipalities this central authority is - in almost all municipalities - the MED-committee. The MED-committee is the organizational anchor point for the method and responsible for managing the process. The work of the MED-committee is only specified in general terms leaving the MED-committee free to organize the work as they see fit. Consequently, there are huge differences between methods and results of the individual the MED-committees across Denmark.
We have developed a tool intended for use at strategic level with managers and working environment specialists deciding overall direction and asking organisations and teams to locally develop MSD interventions. Results and experiences from interventions are then reported back to the strategic level who may then learn and take corrective action to further improve MSD. The tool taps into the annual cycle of work for strategic MSD prevention ensures a systematic follow-up, evaluation and learning from MSD prevention activities.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 13th NOVO-Symposium
Publication date2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019
EventThe 13th NOVO symposium: Sustainable work and inter professional collaboration in health care.
- Lyngby, Denmark
Duration: 12 Dec 201913 Dec 2019


ConferenceThe 13th NOVO symposium: Sustainable work and inter professional collaboration in health care.

Cite this

Edwards, K., & Ipsen, C. (2019). A strategic MSD prevention tool for municipalities. In Proceedings of the 13th NOVO-Symposium (pp. 39-39)