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Do you know what the three stages of WRULDs are?

by , 22 January 2014
Work related upper limb disorders (WRULD) is a collective term for a group of diseases that consist of musculo-skeletal disorders caused by performing a job function in the workplace. They affect muscles, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, joints and bursae (the shock absorbers in your joints). It's important that you manage WRULDs in your workplace. And the only way to do this is if you know the three distinctive stages of WRULDs. Read on to find out what they are.

WRULDs are usually a progressive condition and the person experiencing one or more of them could complain of the following…

Lookout for these three distinctive stages of WRULDs

Stage 1


  • Pain
  • Aching and tiredness of the limb when working

Assessment and treatment:

  • This stage is most often reversible with rest. Sometimes your employee needs guided exercise and treatment to address muscular problems.

Stage 2


  • Recurrent pain
  • Aching
  • Tiredness of the limbs that occur earlier in the shift and persist at night.
  • Sleep may be disturbed.
  • Physical signs of a specific disorder may be visible, for example, swelling or muscle wasting.

Assessment and treatment:

  • Your employee needs physiotherapy at this stage. You must do a work assessment and modification to prevent recurrence.

Stage 3


  • Persistent pain
  • Weakness and fatigue of the limb that happen even when your employee hasn't been working for some time.
  • Sleep is often disturbed.

Assessment and treatment:

  • These symptoms could be irreversible if you don't treat them appropriately.

Use these tips to help prevent WRULDs in your workplace

When it comes to WRULDs, prevention is better than cure, says the Health & Safety Advisor.

And you can improve task and equipment design by applying good ergonomic principles. Pay attention to the design of tools, equipment, workstations, tasks and work methods. This'll be easier if you:

  • Choose tools and equipment that's appropriate for the job and suitable for those who have to use them.
  • Keep all your tools in good condition so they're easy to use.For example, cutting tools must be kept sharp.
  • Provide power tools where you can.
  • Always choose tools with handles that allow your employees to work with their limbs in natural alignment.
  • Redesign workstations to put all controls within easy reach.
  • Provide seats and other equipment that can be adjusted, for example, height from floor, to meet individual needs.
  • Give your employees enough space to work. The legal requirement is 2.25 square metres of open floor space per person.

We'll stress this point again. Prevention is better than cure when it comes to WRULDs.

And if you don't manage WRULDs, you could be held accountable for all the medical expenses and compensation payments. So learn to recognise the distinctive stages of WRULDs and protect your employees and do something about them before it's too late.

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