Employee Muscle Pain Could Be Costing Your Business A Lot More than You Think


Office worker holding neck suffering from muscle pain, while working desk.

Business owners spend time and money checking their employees have what they need to do their job. But many have missed the memo on the importance of managing muscle pain. It’s often the precursor for major problems. 

The Problems Caused by Muscle Pain

The health and economic costs of muscle pain are staggering when you consider lost productivity and rehabilitation.

Pain Leads to Injuries

What many people don’t realise is that niggle or occasional mild pain can turn into something far more sinister. Many significant muscle injuries start with small warning signs over a lengthy period. These minor pains are telling us to change our behaviour or suffer the consequences. But not everyone knows that the pain is often a precursor to much worse pain.  

Lost Work Days

Over one third of work related injuries and illnesses are related to body stressing and manual handling cases. According to Safework Australia, the total economic cost of work injuries and disease is $61.8 million.  

Injury and musculoskeletal disorders led to 90% of serious claims requiring workers compensation in 2014-15. Almost 45% of all claims related to traumatic joint/ligament and muscle/tendon injuries. For those workers who made a compensation claim, the median time away from work was 5.6 weeks. The number of lost work days can have a significant impact on a business.  

Poor Productivity

An employee suffering muscle pain will not be as productive as when they aren’t in pain. Employees who are uncomfortable or in pain will likely stop work to take more breaks, go home early, attend medical appointments and take more sick days. All this time off the job quickly adds up as the employee falls behind on their work. 

One unproductive employee usually leads to more unproductive employees. To avoid the pain of sitting at their workstation, an employee may spend more time in the kitchen making a coffee, take a longer lunch break or walk outside. Their presenteeism can rub off on other employees as they join their colleague’s lead in taking long breaks and poor productivity. 

The behaviour of even just one employee has the power to change the culture of an organisation. And the change in behaviour and culture can have an enormous impact on the organisation.    

Risk of Workers Compensation Claims

Musculoskeletal injuries are expensive. Businesses should do everything they can to avoid employee injuries so workers don’t need to make a claim. Many will argue they have insurance to make a claim, but the problem is the jump in premiums once they make a claim. Insurers know from experience that if one employee  has been injured, it’s likely more employees will suffer the same fate in future.  

What you Can Do to Reduce the Chance of Employee Muscle Pain

There are steps business owners can take to reduce the incidence of muscle pain. 

Invest in Ergonomic Equipment

Muscle pain and injuries occur when a worker must try to fit the equipment, not the other way around. Ergonomic equipment means it can be modified to suit the worker’s shape, posture and the way they work. 

If you aren’t sure if an employee’s equipment is right for them, be proactive and organise a workplace assessment before it’s too late. Looking at how an employee works, the tasks they perform and their body shape determines their requirements for the equipment they need to do their job. 

Encourage Movement

Occupational sitting is common for over 80% of Australian workers with half saying they sit often or all the time. Sedentary work is one of the main contributing factors in muscle pain. By taking regular breaks from a seated position can reduce the incidence and severity of muscle pain. Remind staff regularly to leave their work station and walk around. 

Some organisations promote walking or standing meetings to reduce the amount of time staff sit. Others have lunchtime events such as yoga or gym sessions to encourage staff to keep their muscles strong. 

If you have any queries about reducing workers’ muscle pain, call us on (08) 9240 7066 or contact us online.