To ask the Secretary of State for Health
(1) what steps the Government are taking to increase arthritis awareness in the workplace; and if she will make a statement;
(2) what representations her Department has received on (a) rheumatoid arthritis and (b) osteo-arthritis in the workplace; and if she will make a statement.
These conditions affect many people of working age. Although rheumatoid arthritis is not caused by work, the development of osteoarthritis can be affected by work activity. With effective management and support, most people with osteoarthritis are able to stay in or return to work.
Osteoarthritis is recognised in the Health and Safety Commission and Executive HSC/E guidance booklet Upper limb disorders in the workplace as one of about 15 kinds of medically diagnosable upper limb disorders. It also affects other parts of the body such as hips and lower limbs. Following HSC/E's recognised ergonomic approach, as set out in the guidance, employers can design jobs and tasks which control the exposure of the workforce to risk factors.
HSC/E has not had specific representations on rheumatoid or osteoarthritis. However, we have worked closely with ARMA, the Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Alliance, who have recently published Standards of Care for people with Inflammatory Arthritis, with Osteoarthritis and with Back Pain. HSC/E endorses the advice contained in this guidance.