May 5, 2022

EU Report Examines How Schools Can Help Prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders

A report released April 26 by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) examines approaches for preventing the development of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among children and young people in schools. According to EU-OSHA, integrating occupational health and safety issues in education can help prevent MSDs among students and young workers. The report’s executive summary explains that the health of children and young people is closely tied to their school educations because school is the most important point of socialization for young people outside their families. EU-OSHA also notes that health issues—especially those related to the school environment—present serious problems for students and teachers alike.

The report’s summary suggests that the school system is “a suitable setting for the prevention of MSDs,” especially in the European Union, where “the formal framework for health promotion and prevention in schools is quite well developed.” EU-OSHA’s report explains that the success of MSD prevention in schools depends on efforts such as the training of teachers and school staff members, the financial backing of MSD prevention efforts, and cooperation between the education and public health sectors.

The report recommends initiatives to prevent or reduce MSDs through the promotion of exercise and provides examples of successful exercise promotion implementations in Finland, Austria, Hungary, and Germany. According to the agency, these programs “reflect the realistic possibilities for prevention and health promotion,” although MSDs are not yet a priority for student health in the way that issues such as tobacco use and mental health are.

Integrating occupational health and safety into education, especially school education, has been a recurring topic on the EU-OSHA agenda since 2002. For more information, see the complete report, which is available for download from EU-OSHA’s website.