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figure showing skeleton and musculature

Program Description

A major development in the management of NIOSH research programs is an emphasis on economic sectors using North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes as an organizational structure to understand and meet work place health and safety needs for the nation. This structure promises to place an important developing emphasis on how the products of research measurably benefit the nation’s work force.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are significant health and safety issues for which challenges and opportunities exist to better understand objective causes and effects, economic impacts, and effective strategies to prevent and treat these complicated disorders.

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are injuries or disorders of the muscles, nerves, tendons, joints, cartilage, an disorders of the nerves, tendons, muscles and supporting structures of the upper and lower limbs, neck, and lower back that are caused, precipitated or exacerbated by sudden exertion or prolonged exposure to physical factors such as repetition, force, vibration, or awkward posture. (This definition specifically excludes those conditions such as fractures, contusions, abrasions, and lacerations resulting from sudden physical contact of the body with external objects.)

More information about MSDs can be found at the NIOSH Website topic page Musculoskeletal Disorders and Ergonomics.

The NIOSH Cross-Sector Program for Musculoskeletal Disorders falls under a program development activity that acknowledges the relevance of key scientific and engineering disciplines that cut across the economic-based sectors. These Cross-Sector Programs will develop emphases that reflect research needs in a number of NAICS Sector Programs. For example, MSDs are significant issues in manufacturing, health care, construction, and other industry sectors.

The mission of the NIOSH Cross-Sector Program for Musculoskeletal Disorders is to reduce the burden of work-related MSDs through a focused program of research and prevention that protects workers from MSDs, helps management mitigate related risks and liabilities, and helps practitioners improve the efficacy of workplace interventions. The program strives to fulfill its mission through:

  • High Quality Research: NIOSH will continually strive for high quality research and prevention activities that will lead to reductions in work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Practical Solutions: The NIOSH Cross-Sector Program for Musculoskeletal Disorders is committed to the development of practical solutions to the complex problems associated with work-related musculoskeletal disorders.
  • Partnerships: We recognize that collaborative efforts in partnership with labor, industry, government, and other stakeholders are usually the best means of achieving successful outcomes. Fostering these partnerships is a cornerstone of the NIOSH Cross-Sector Program for Musculoskeletal Disorders.
  • Research to Practice ( r2p ): The Musculoskeletal Disorders Cross-Sector Program contributes to a strategy of transferring and translating research findings into prevention practices and products that will be adopted in occupational settings. This contribution occurs through international research, technical assistance, capacity building, and information sharing.