The Digital Economy and Hybrid Work Call for a Review of Compensation Criteria for Musculoskeletal Disorders

Main Article Content

Yves Roquelaure
Julie Bodin
Florence Cros
Alexis Descatha
Marc Fadel


hybrid work, new way of working, musculoskeletal disorders, occupational disease, compensation


Work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSD) pose a significant occupational health challenge in Europe. The digitization of the economy substantially reshaped the nature and organization of work. The proliferation of hybrid working, characterized by a combination of office-based and remote work, has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. This review covers hybrid forms of work, their impact on WRMSDs, and the potential implications for WRMSD compensation. Approximately 30-40% of the European workforce could potentially transition to hybrid forms of work. Hybrid work arrangements can result in prolonged static postures of the trunk, neck, and upper limbs without adequate breaks, thereby increasing the risk of neck and lower back pain. As teleworking and hybrid working become more prevalent, an increase in non-specific WRMSDs is anticipated among the working population. In many countries, claims for WRMSDs necessitate a formal diagnosis by a healthcare professional. However, cases of non-specific WRMSDs, such as cervicalgia or chronic shoulder pain, - commonly observed in sedentary workers engaged in predominantly low-intensity, prolonged static work amid visually and cognitively demanding tasks - often do not meet the criteria for compensation as occupational diseases. The compensation system and/or the criteria for compensation must be adapted to accommodate the rise of telework, necessitating evolving criteria for compensation that address both medical and risk exposure considerations.

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