Effective prevention and management of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) within the workplace
With 23,000 employees, 2 Sisters Food Group is one of the UK’s largest food manufacturers, from chicken to cookies, and pizzas to pies. They are on a mission to deliver great quality and innovative meal ideas each and every day.
However it is a challenging environment in which to work, with a high volume of outputs from raw materials to products delivered. With a wide range of repetitive activities, sustained postures and manual handling tasks, the risk of musculoskeletal disorders can be high, potentially causing employees to be placed on restricted duties or even cause periods of sickness absence.
Connect Health was commissioned to reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders. Our occupational health physiotherapy service addresses the health and wellbeing needs of all employees. From on-site proactive, preventative health and wellbeing services, which includes specific risk assessments that provides improvements through to rehabilitation services supporting employees with chronic musculoskeletal disorders (MSD’s) and longterm absence.
An initial pilot service commenced at 2 Sisters Food Group, Fox’s Biscuit Kirkham site in November 2014. Onsite occupational health physiotherapy services were delivered, resulting in reduced sickness absence in the first 5 months of 40%.
Following this success, it was extended to a further two sites in Sandycroft, North Wales and Witham, Essex in August 2015. We now work across a number of different 2 Sisters Food Group production sites throughout the UK.
The Manual Handling, Train the Trainer and Ergonomic Risk Assessment Training courses met both business and personal needs. Confidence was gained to look not only at basic solutions to the issues but more in depth solutions to take forward to senior management as appropriate. I would strongly recommend these training sessions to other sites.
Safety Health & Environment Manager, Witham site
Our on-site occupational health physiotherapy service
MSDs are often complex, but the solutions can be simple and extremely effective. We implemented a weekly on-site occupational health physiotherapy service across 2 Sisters Food Group sites.
- Reduce and prevent MSDs related sickness absence
- Facilitate and expedite return to work of MSD cases
- Improve employee productivity and performance
- Support and improve employee health and wellbeing
- Improve employee engagement
- Introduce proactive initiatives to prevent future MSDs
- Significantly reduce financial costs associated with MSDs
How the service has developed
The service initially was very bias towards a reactive treatment model, but we are now delivering a host of upstream proactive interventions which includes:
- Bespoke training packages to include:
- Ergonomic Risk Assessment Training
- Manual Handling Train the Trainer
- Musculoskeletal Risk and Solution based Awareness Training for Managers
- Musculoskeletal screening
- Ergonomic risk assessments / specific task analysis
These figures relate to the Witham site only, which is a chicken processing plant with 720 employees.
- 75% reduction in sickness absence for low back pain in 2016 compared to 2012
- Low back pain in 2012 cost £34,656 in sickness absence
- Low back pain in 2016 only cost only £8,000 in sickness absence
At Group Level
Reduction of injuries and claims related to musculoskeletal disorders in 2017/18 by in excess of 10%.
The onsite physiotherapy service provided by Connect has enabled the site to reduce absence related to upper limb disorders by 77% over 3 years.
During this time, we have increased the weekly hours in order to benefit from a proactive approach whereby the physiotherapist works closely with Line Managers and colleagues on the shop floor to discuss benefits of task rotation, work station adjustments and early referral to onsite OH physiotherapy.
This is a service that delivers us benefits for both the business and employee, in cost, employee welfare and engagement.
Human Resources Business Partner, Witham site
2 Sisters Food Group (2SFG) has utilised Connect Health’s service over the last couple of years, to assist with reducing risk, ensuring HSE requirements and legislation is complied. Connect supported 2SFG with a selection of training programmes in relation to Manual Handling, Musculoskeletal Awareness Training for Managers & Ergonomic Risk Assessment Training.
Ergonomic risk assessments have also been carried out. Specific screening tools were used to quantify the process, providing a rigorous evaluation and evidence-based recommendation for change. This has assisted in the reduction of injuries and claims related to musculoskeletal disorders, by in excess of 10%, in 2017/18.
Due to Connects’ Onsite OH Physiotherapy service delivery, there has been a reduction of employee sickness absence by over 50%, whilst promoting best practice and encouraging wellbeing within the workplace.
Group Claims Defensibility & Risk Manager
I feel the exercises contributed to making my hands better and made the work I was doing easier. I found this very helpful and continue to do these exercises to help prevent my symptoms.
Seeing the physiotherapist at work helped me to reduce my back pain and return to work sooner. I am very happy I have this service at work as it helped me.
Future plans with 2 Sisters Food Group
- Health & Wellbeing – timeline of events to promote good mental & physical fitness.
- Musculoskeletal screening programme – for specific areas in the factory where there are key hot spots and high risk areas.
- Innovative programme – extension of preventative services to further reduce MSDs, implementation of initiatives to address aging workforce, wider health and wellbeing promotion.
- Education programme to help employees & managers understand & prevent MSDs and encourage a healthy lifestyle.
- Roll out services to other sites.