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One concern for FMCG employers during the COVID-19 pandemic is the ability to keep staff healthy and happy, to meet the heightened requirements placed on their teams. Here, Paul Shawcross, Clinical Lead in Occupational Health Services at Connect Health, provides advice on how to keep in good musculoskeletal health whilst these workers are busy supplying the nation.

Currently, FMCG workers, around 400,000 British people – are working tirelessly to make sure supermarket shelves are kept well stocked and Britain doesn’t go hungry. These unsung heroes, who work 12-hour shifts, are prone to musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) – back, joint and upper limb pain, caused by long periods of standing and lots of repetition.

MSDs are the second leading cause of working days lost, nationally– accounting for 22% of sickness absence1 and costing an estimated £7 billion a year. So, at this time of national emergency, it has never been more important to keep staff in the best possible health, to avoid a surge in absenteeism and the knock-on implications of that.

Make time for movement

Before, during and after their shifts, staff should be encouraged to move in a different way to how they have been during their working hours. If they have been static for long periods or continually leaning across a conveyor belt, something as simple as a few stretches or a walk around the block will help loosen off the muscles.

Encouraging more energetic and structured exercise out of work, will also reap benefits and there are lots of training resources to tap into. Exercise naturally boosts endorphins, which increase happiness and interest levels – all of which are important for mental and physical health and productivity.

Try micro breaks and rotation

For those who have repetitive roles, which leads to pressure on key areas of their body, the introduction of rotation and micro breaks are particularly effective.

This means rotating workers onto other lines to reduce repetition and opting for more breaks throughout the day, which are shorter versus longer and less frequent.

Encourage team-led exercising

As with any new introductions, showing they’re team-led rather than a demand from the top, tends to be better received. We found this to work well, when encouraging exercising during break times, particularly strength training which is proven to help reduce MSD amongst workers who have physically demanding roles.

Here is the full article link – www.connecthealth.co.uk/news/keeping-britains-backbone-in-good-health

1 Public Health England.

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