Investigating work-related musculoskeletal disorders: strengths and weaknesses of current practices in large Australian organisations

N. Goode, S. Newnam, M. R.H. van Mulken, S. Dekker, P. M. Salmon

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12 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a conceptual framework for learning from investigations of work-related musculoskeletal disorders based on the literature. The framework is used to identify the strengths and weaknesses of current practices in 19 large Australian organisations, in comparison to recommended practice in the literature. The study involved semi-structured interviews with 34 employees responsible for investigating reports of WMSDs. The findings show that current practices are highly variable both within and across organisations, and that reports of minor injuries due to work tasks (i.e. pain, discomfort) are unlikely to be investigated. While some practices that may enhance opportunities for learning were identified, they tended to occur based on individual skills and experience. Participants also reported significant challenges in implementing recommendations to address WMSDs following investigations. Overall, the findings suggest that in large Australian organisations, investigation processes for WMSDs are not aligned with recommended practice in the literature, and that insufficient resources are available to translate any potential lessons into effective prevention activities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-115
Number of pages11
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019


  • Investigations
  • Learning from incidents
  • Work-related musculoskeletal disorders

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