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Is your organization looking for a way to make meaningful improvements to workplace health and safety? Are you wondering what your organization can do to advance the maturity of your environmental, social and governance (ESG) program? Do you want to be part of a group of fellow industry leaders who are actively committed to enhancing worker wellbeing and operational excellence? If you said yes to any of these, it’s time to take the MSD Pledge.     

The National Safety Council’s MSD Pledge is an initiative launched in 2021 in partnership with Amazon to take on one of the most common types of workplace injuries – musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). This month marks two years since NSC established the MSD Pledge and in that short time, more than 160 companies, municipalities, and professional organizations with names like AIHA, Cardinal Health, Boeing, John Deere and United Airlines have signed on to demonstrate their commitment.

What is the MSD Pledge?

The National Safety Council (NSC) states, “The MSD Pledge is part of a global movement of employers across industries to transform workplace safety and reduce the risk of musculoskeletal disorders, the most common workplace injury.” In essence, it is a community of organizations who are not only proactive in addressing MSD risks in their own workplaces but are actively developing and innovating MSD risk reduction strategies and technologies to help advance the science of ergonomics.  

MSD Pledge members share their innovative MSD reduction strategies and ergonomics technologies with fellow members via the MSD Solutions Lab. As NSC puts it, The MSD Solutions Lab is “a first of its kind strategic initiative to address this critical issue [of MSDs] by engaging key stakeholders, conducting research, identifying new technology, innovating solutions and scaling the results so all workplaces can benefit.” At the heart of the MSD Solutions Lab is an advisory council comprised of “health, safety and ergonomics practitioners, wellbeing researchers, and government, corporate and nonprofit executives whose mission is to support the program’s research, advocacy, and engagement efforts.”

The MSD Solutions Lab compiles and publishes its research findings and other real-world expertise gained through the participation of its MSD Pledge membership and makes it available to all organizations. This means that as an MSD Pledge member, you will be on the leading edge of ergonomics best practices while also benefiting from the shared expertise of fellow members. MSD Pledge members represent an elite group of organizations who are at the forefront of workplace ergonomics.

MSD Injury Statistics

Despite the growing emphasis many companies are placing on workplace ergonomics, MSD risks continue to be a leading cause of work-related injuries. In fact, recent data from NSC showed that overexertion and other MSDs contributed to 255,490 workplace injuries in 2020. That’s 21.7%, or more than one fifth, of all lost-time worker injuries recorded across all industries that year.

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Figure 1: 2017 NSC Injury Statistics by Type

These significant rates of MSD injuries are even more pronounced in the manufacturing industry where it can be especially challenging to address MSD risks effectively and systematically. This is due to the need to design manufacturing processes and even materials themselves to help reduce MSD risks. In Figure 1, we can see that overexertion and other bodily reactions (a.k.a. MSDs), along with repetitive motion injuries that frequently occur due to poor ergonomic design, were responsible for 38% of all manufacturing injuries recorded in 2017.

Ergonomics Program Resources

If we’re to make meaningful progress toward preventing MSD injuries, we need to get serious about improving our ergonomics programs. NSCs MSD Solutions Lab is a prime resource for the knowledge, expertise, and actionable best practices to help you along that path, but it’s not just the access to the shared expertise of MSD Pledge members that you get when you take the pledge. Being a member of the NSC MSD Pledge makes your organization eligible to receive grant funding through the NSC to help you develop your ergonomics program and offset some of the financial barriers that often keep organizations from pursuing those ergonomic improvements and innovations.

Here are the examples of grants available to MSD Pledge members in 2023:

  • Research to Solutions (R2S) Grant (Total of $225,000): Inspires collaboration among academic institutions and businesses to uncover promising, transferable solutions for injury risk reduction. Letter of Intent submission deadline is April 7.
  • MSD Solutions Pilot Grant 1.0 (Total of $60,000): Invites organizations to partner with any of six leading solutions providers to reduce MSDs caused by manual material handling. Grant proposal submission deadline is May 19.

Unfortunately, the open period for 2023 grant applications has already closed, but The MSD Solutions Lab offers annual grant opportunities for member organizations and individuals committed to occupational MSD risk reduction and ergonomics program improvements. Be sure to check the MSD Solutions Lab’s grants page for information on how to submit your application for grant opportunities in 2024 and beyond!

Ergonomics & ESG: Connecting the Dots

A company can’t honestly claim to be working toward ESG program maturity while their employees are struggling physically and are vulnerable to MSD risks. Worker health, wellbeing, and satisfaction are all critical components of the social aspects of ESG, and an effective ergonomics program has a direct positive impact toward these important ESG goals. Implementing ergonomics program improvements demonstrates the value and priority businesses place on their workforce, and sends a clear signal to employees, the public, investors, and other stakeholders that they talk-the-talk and walk-the-walk when it comes to pursuing ESG performance. The most mature companies already recognize the substantial value of strong ergonomics programs when it comes to worker health and wellbeing, but they also recognize how maximizing the efficiency of jobs through ergonomic improvements can achieve a significant ROI in terms of productivity and operational excellence.

Check out our Ergonomics Program ROI Calculator to learn how much your business can save through ergonomics program improvements and reduced MSD injury costs.  

As ESG continues to be a top priority for businesses and their stakeholders, ergonomics will be increasingly be at the forefront due to its natural alignment with the social aspects of ESG. In a nutshell, a strong ergonomics program signals that the company prioritizes optimal working conditions for their employees and is doing whatever it takes to promote their wellbeing. What better way to show that an organization cares about the health and safety of their employees than with quantitative data proving good ergonomic conditions and reductions of MSD risks in their workplace?  

Have You Signed the MSD Pledge?

Join the growing group of organizations who have committed to reducing MSD risks and promoting the health and wellbeing of your workforce! The benefits are clear, and membership is free! By joining, you’ll gain access to a community of ergonomics thought leaders, the shared expertise and innovation in ergonomics program strategies and technologies, and the ability to contribute to the evolving science of ergonomics program excellence.

Click Here to Join the NSC MSD Pledge

VelocityEHS Can Help!

VelocityEHS is a proud member of the NSC MSD Pledge, and as a member, our ergonomics software innovations like Motion Capture AI and machine learning-based ActiveEHS®-Driven MSD Risk Controls continue to contribute to the collective knowledge, technology, and expertise of ergonomics process managers and EHS professionals like you so you can make meaningful improvements to your ergonomics programs.

Interested in how VelocityEHS Ergonomics Solutions can help your business take the next step? Request a Demo today and we’ll show you how.