The Commission's new health and safety at work strategy 2002-2006 gives notice of Community initiatives on MSD. Although it is still vague as to exactly what shape they will take, the announcement sets the seal on trade unions' long-standing efforts to put MSD at the centre of the European debate.

This report on the Clothing Industry comes as an addition to the array of publications produced by the ETUI Health and Safety department to support the ETUC's Europe-wide campaign to combat MSD. An industry-based survey was felt the best way to get insights into specific MSD problems, current scientific knowledge and solutions. The clothing industry offers an object lesson in repetitive work and MSD risk factors with pay systems traditionally linked to work pace. The industry has been forced into wholesale restructuring in recent decades by fierce global market competition. The resulting intensification of work has led to worse working conditions and a higher incidence of MSD.

This report offers a comprehensive review of existing scientific knowledge related to MSD in the textile and clothing industry. It also examines organizational changes in the sector, considering established and emerging health and safety issues. At the same time, it presents practical examples of how trade union mobilization and participatory approaches have addressed MSD problems in different workplaces across Europe.

Table of contents

Full text

Related content

Yves Roquelaure

Musculoskeletal disorders and psychosocial factors at work

This report presents the current state of scientific knowledge on the ways in which psychosocial factors influence musculoskelatal disorders (MSDs), and their impact on work capacity and quality. Almost 40m workers in Europe suffer from MSDs of the limbs and back and are the most common occupational disease in the EU. The aim of the paper is... Find out more

Yves Roquelaure

Musculoskeletal disorders: a major challenge for occupational risk prevention in Europe

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) pose the most widespread occupational health problem in the European Union. Their high incidence bears witness to the intensification of working conditions that is affecting growing numbers of employees in industry and services.This policy brief looks at the work-related causes behind musculoskeletal disorders and... Find out more

Jacques Malchaire

A classification of methods for assessing and/or preventing the risks of musculoskeletal disorders

The ETUI has recently published a guide showing 15 methods for evaluating and preventing the risks of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in the workplace. The methods are classified into three categories depending on the skills needed to use them: detection – analysis – expertise. Through this publication, the ETUI seeks to encourage the... Find out more

Roland Gauthy

Musculoskeletal disorders. An ill-understood pandemic

These three letters - MSD - mask the leading cause of occupational illness in Europe. According to a wide European survey on working conditions, 25% of European workers suffer from back pain and 23% from muscular pain.These particularly incapacitating pathologies seriously undermine the physical and psychological health of victims, to say nothing... Find out more

J. Aleid Ringelberg, Theoni Koukoulaki

Risk estimation for musculoskeletal disorders in machinery design

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) are a major occupational health problem in Europe, affecting over 40 million workers. Current EU legislation includes some ergonomic provisions related to MSD prevention, but does not adequately address specifically Upper Limb Disorder-related MSD risks. In neither case - equipment use or design - have any specific... Find out more