How BT Group is supporting musculoskeletal health

Lyle Ellerbee

From an impressive new workplace space designed with wellbeing and wellbeing in mind by way of to instruction modules to assistance personnel recognize threat aspects, BT Group’s solution to musculoskeletal health and fitness has avoidance at its main, as Ashleigh Webber reviews. 

Musculoskeletal issues (MSDs) have prolonged been the most prevalent perform-similar damage, and their prevalence grew when the Covid-19 pandemic generated its extended period of homeworking.

Some 470,000 employees were struggling from do the job-associated MSDs in 2020/21, according to the Overall health and Basic safety Executive – 45% of whom professional conditions impacting their upper limbs and neck. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the level of self-claimed function-similar MSDs confirmed a commonly downward craze.

BT Group was among the the a lot of organisations worried about the increase of MSDs in its workforce – not only among the people who had reverted to doing the job from house, but also all those out in the field who undertake bodily demanding operate just about every working day.

These issues, amongst many others, have led it to creating a programme of initiatives intended to avoid musculoskeletal injuries and guidance individuals with current situations. It sorts component of BT Group’s “promote, stop and restore” approach to help the five drivers of wellbeing: wellness, security, setting, relationships and intent.

As Lina Chauhan, BT Group’s ergonomic, musculoskeletal and wellbeing expert, explains: “MSK conditions are common, affecting a single in five adults. They are also much more prevalent as people today get older. The prevalence of MSK complications has been predicted to raise at a time when there is an raising ageing workforce.

“Looking at our cohort, we discovered opportunity for an increase, and subsequently observed an increase, in back again and upper-limb difficulties for those colleagues functioning from property.

“For operational roles, these as our field engineers who undertake additional physically demanding operate, popular complaints are usually back again, knee and shoulder associated. MSK conditions can limit do the job potential, nevertheless, this is much more most likely to be noted in operational roles where there is more handbook managing, uncomfortable postures, etcetera.”

Chauhan claims that a Uk-vast study by Chartered Modern society of Physiotherapy has revealed that established very poor function behaviors improve probability of MSDs in staff members, but notes that there is a difference among a person’s do the job triggering MSK troubles and their career aggravating present issues. These will call for a distinctive tactic to supporting the employee.

Focus on avoidance

For a lot of years BT Group has available staff obtain to totally free physiotherapy solutions, which has aided identify the regions of MSK well being it demands to be conscious of.

When the pandemic strike in spring 2020, BT Team concentrated on prevention. It released a new show monitor products (DSE) self-evaluation tool that went outside of regulatory necessities, as it also presents broader health and wellbeing advice to guarantee individuals who are functioning from dwelling are operating in protected and wholesome environments.

“Across the nation, there does seem to be an improve in MSK-relevant indications relating to DSE through the pandemic,” Chauhan tells OHW+. “People were performing at workstations that had been established-up for a short-term period – which rolled into a substantially for a longer period period of time than was in the beginning envisaged. We produced absolutely sure workers were being informed of the significance of finishing a DSE self-assessment for their residence natural environment, and also signposted to physiotherapy companies delivered.

Folks have been doing the job at workstations that had been set-up for a momentary period – which rolled into a much extended time period than was initially envisaged. We made guaranteed staff members were mindful of the significance of finishing a DSE self-assessment for their home natural environment.” – Lina Chauhan, BT Group

“Another variable that has fed into an maximize in claimed signs or symptoms in excess of the very last couple of a long time is bodily inactivity. Due to prolonged periods of effectively becoming housebound, our degree of movement for typical day-to-day activities these kinds of as commuting, searching, socialising reduced – or for some people today stopped – main to actual physical deconditioning of our bodies.”

The Far better Place of work Programme

Chauhan, an sophisticated occupational health and musculoskeletal overall health physiotherapist with 15 years’ knowledge functioning in market, operates inside of BT Group’s health and fitness and wellbeing staff and has been focusing on several other help initiatives as element of ‘The Far better Office Programme’ (TBWP). Primarily based on emerging overall health difficulties and options, office initiatives have been extended to assistance maintain staff members healthier and in get the job done.

As portion of TBWP, BT Team has designed a doing the job environment that aims to aid colleagues link, collaborate, produce and innovate. A examine into the model, introduced at its ‘hub’ – A few Snowhill in Birmingham – will consider employees’ well being, wellbeing and overall performance.

“BT’s vision as part of TBWP is ‘bringing men and women alongside one another in excellent spaces that rework the way we work’. This interprets into making transformational workplaces that help a new, far more agile way of functioning and seeking right after worker health and wellbeing,” describes Chauhan.

“The new assets strategy delivers a great prospect to produce workplaces that supply a operating natural environment that enhances health and wellbeing and do the job effectiveness for colleagues. This includes optimising light-weight, temperature, sounds, and indoor air excellent, together with great ergonomics and amenities, as perfectly as supporting a a lot more collaborative society.”

BT Group’s health, protection and wellbeing group supplied oversight, validation and specialist input into placing the design and style concepts for TBWP to ensure that staff health and wellbeing was a big side of place of work structure.

Upskilling, assessment and help

The organisation has upskilled hundreds of volunteer wellbeing champions in MSK troubles and formulated a MSK health and fitness training module for team to undertake. A investigation challenge introduced in March 2022 has observed it integrate TrackActive Me, an MSK triage and self-assessment tool, into its DSE chance management method, giving workforce early obtain to advice and self-management of MSK conditions.

Eventually, the business has lately trialled a condition administration programme, based mostly on cognitive-behavioural principles, which has aimed to aid colleagues who have experienced persistent and persistent suffering at an early stage.

On the broader “promote, help and restore” tactic, Chauhan states assistance and assistance is shipped in a quantity of means.

Under “promote”, all employees have accessibility to a ‘Your Wellbeing’ portal which features information, details and movie material to teach them about health challenges. Underneath “support”, staff can access occupational health support and a variety of pathways are in spot to assure people with long-term disorders get the assistance they need to have – for example, a “passport” is in area to support supervisors know how very best to assist folks. Below “restore”, numerous treatment method solutions are offered, together with totally free physiotherapy, a purposeful restoration programme and a prehabilitation programme to support team prepare for surgical treatment.

Chauhan suggests: “We are wanting at what simple messages can be embedded into numerous areas to assistance guidance constructive well being behaviour adjust. We are really keen on trying to keep the messages simple, distinct and steady, and to permit discussions about MSK overall health in the place of work proactively.”

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