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European Education and Culture Executive Agency

Prevent for Work (P4Work): the European network to prevent and manage work related Musculoskeletal Disorders

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How often have you found yourself complaining about back, arm or leg pain after working non-stop in the same position?  Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) are soft-tissue injuries caused by sudden or sustained exposure to repetitive motion, force, vibration, and awkward positions. These disorders can affect the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints and cartilage in your upper and lower limbs, neck and lower back.

Musculoskeletal Disorders are some of the most common work-related ailments, as identified by The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA). Musculoskeletal Disorders throughout Europe affect millions of workers and cost employers billions of euros. Tackling MSDs helps to improve workers´ lives, and makes good business sense.

Prevent for Work (P4Work) has established a network and developed innovative educational programmes, adaptive mobile Health (mHealth) tools and high-quality evidence-based material as well as actions that can be implemented in the EU to prevent Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders. These were developed with the participation of Higher Education Institutions, ITC enterprises, educational SMEs and clinical expertise (P4Work Observatory).

P4Work tools aim to explain what musculoskeletal pain is and how it affects society. These tools offer tips and recommendations for dealing with musculoskeletal pain and the different interventions that can be carried out from the workplace to control and prevent pain. P4work also goes beyond this to describe the benefits that work can have on physical and mental health and why work should be considered therapeutic.

A wide array of learning, teaching and training resources is offered via the P4Work virtual platform, including:

  • Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC)
  • Courses
  • App
  • Symposiums
  • Webinars
  • Videos

These incredibly useful tools and training resources, developed for workers, enterprises and healthcare providers, are available for everyone and very easy to use. There are video tutorials available on the P4Work website that teach participants how to register and use the P4Work app and E-Learning Platform. There is also the possibility to contact the support service in case further assistance is needed.

Q&A with project coordinator Dr Luis Enrique Roche Seruendo:

  • What was one of the most challenging moments of P4Work?

The months-long closure in Spain during the COVID-19 pandemic prevented us from making face-to-face contact with company managers to inform them about the project and potentially involve their employees in the pilot actions. As a result, for a moment, it seemed that we would not be able to achieve our initial objectives.

  • From your point of view, how is the project contributing to the beneficiaries' real-life and activities? Could you provide examples?

The three main real-life benefits can be summarised in terms of the 3 main target groups of the project.

First, healthcare professionals were trained on the most current evidence on managing musculoskeletal disorders and could integrate approaches categorised as "high value" into their clinical practice.

Second, workers were able to dispel false myths about musculoskeletal disorders that are highly prevalent in the population and that contribute to maintaining the problem of musculoskeletal disorders. For example, sitting with a straight back is sufficient to prevent low back pain or that when experiencing pain it is best to rest completely until the pain subsides completely.

Third, company managers received free training for their employees under the design of a consortium of world-class experts in the field of musculoskeletal health. 

  • And what was the most rewarding moment?

The most satisfying moment was to see how in the fifth and sixth monthly editions of the training courses, we filled the quota of available spots (350 per edition), when we barely exceeded 10% of the places offered in the first edition.


Go back to the news article and discover other projects' stories