The health condition costing 7.4 billion

New La Trobe research calls for urgent training of employers to support staff with arthritis and musculoskeletal issues which are draining workforce productivity to the tune of  7.4 billion dollars a year.

An ageing population means that this is urgent!     

The project, in collaboration with Arthritis and Osteoporosis Victoria (AOV) reveals widespread employer ignorance about the conditions and ways to best manage affected staff.

Lead author, La Trobe's Dr Jodi Oakman said appropriate workplace modifications can ensure people with MSK issues can be maximally productive.

'Our research showed most employers don't realise that nearly 60% of people with the condition are in their prime working years – aged 25-64. Many of them are scared of revealing their condition to a future boss precisely because of this.

'Workplaces need to get better at helping bosses link in with organisations like AOV for advice and education – flexibility with hours is also crucial to help workers be maximally productive.

An ageing population means we are all going to have to work for longer, those with chronic conditions are going to find this very challenging, It is of benefit to all of society to keep people at work, we need to work out smart ways of doing this.

The findings reveal an employee with joint and muscular pain can be an effective team member if understanding and workplace support is there.

'This is not rocket science and reform needs to happen urgently - our economy depends on it,' Dr Oakman said

Breakdown of the economic cost from lost productivity from arthritis and MSK

  • Reduced employment rate $6,049,090,000
  • Lost superannuation $544,420,000
  • Presenteeism $397,270,000
  • Absenteeism $ 301,080,000
  • Premature death 100,530,000

The report is called Working with pain: What can workplaces do to support employees with persistent musculoskeletal pain to maintain productive employment.

Media Contact; Catherine Garrett 9479 6565

Image credit; Regenorthoclinic