On Monday 18 October, TIC Council and DEKRA hosted the third virtual panel on “Ergonomics and Psychological-related Issues’ as part of their joint Occupational Health and Safety Webinar Series.

The panel was composed of high-level speakers:

- Sebastian Bartels, Senior Vice President, Head of Global Business Line HSE & Sustainability, DEKRA

- Eloy Jáuregui Martin, Health and Safety Manager, Acciona

- Dorota Sienkiewicz, Senior Policy Coordinator, EuroHealthNet

- Carlene Smith, Assessments Manager, DEKRA

As Official Partners of the European Agency for Safety & Health at Work (EU-OSHA)’s ‘Healthy Workplaces Lighten the Load 2020-2022’, TIC Council and DEKRA are committed to raising awareness of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace and proactively seeking solutions to better prevent and manage MSDs.

The third and final webinar of this series, entitled ‘Ergonomics and psychological related issues’, highlighted the correlation between MSDs and mental disorders, providing a cross-sectoral perspective on the impact that Covid-19 posed to the psychological health of the employees, lessons learnt, the best practices from the current pandemic and, in general, the new measures adopted by companies and organisations to ensure the mental wellbeing of workers.

Our virtual panel moderated by Ms. Laura Martin, TIC Council Communications Manager, began with an introductory presentation from Mr. Sebastian Bartels, Senior Vice President, Head of Global Business Line HSE & Sustainability at DEKRA, providing valuable context on the topic of MSDs and psychosocial effects. Presenting alarming data on the increasing number of absences from work due to psychological disorders, Mr. Bartels highlighted the deep interrelation between common mental disorders and work-related musculoskeletal pain.

Due to this correlation, it is essential that companies ensure the physical and mental wellbeing of their employees. As such, Eloy Jáuregui Martin, Health and Safety Manager at Acciona, presented the MSD Improvement Programme that the company has developed in order to raise awareness on the importance of training and best practices for employees. Among the priorities for 2021, the Programme includes safety in design measures, safety practices disclosure, health surveillance and MSD safety measures under the future 4.0 frame. In particular, Mr. Jáuregui Martin remarked that the positive outcome of this initiative derives from the involvement of high-level health and safety experts, but above all, the proactive participation of the workers, who voiced their needs and suggestions.

Dorota Sienkiewicz, Senior Policy Coordinator at EuroHealthNet provided an overview of the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work (2021-2027) and the related recommendations that EuroHealthNet has presented in order to improve it. First of all, Member States should address mental health and psychosocial risks in their national occupational health and safety (OSH) strategies, including adequate resource allocation for preventative actions. Secondly, she suggested a more integrated approach to tackle occupational mental health challenges through various sectors, services and settings. As a practical examples, various good practices from the Finnish and the Austrian Governments were presented.

Finally, Carlene Smith, Assessments Manager at DEKRA explained how mental health disorders can affect productivity: according to the research conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO), anxiety and depression cost around one trillion US dollars per year to the global economy. To avoid this loss, it is fundamental that companies and organisations include mental wellbeing in their business strategies. However, in doing so, organisations tend to make two common mistakes: they adopt a one-size approach that is not applicable to all, and they just try to cure the symptoms (such as stress and anxiety) without addressing the causes. Thus, Ms. Smith advocated for further measures that actually go to the root causes of the issues and find real, efficient solutions.

The presentation of the webinar is available here.