New Regulations On Ergonomics And MSD. What Should You Remember?

Claeys & Engels


Claeys & Engels is a specialised law firm offering a full range of legal services to both national and international clients in all areas concerning human resources. Each question is dealt with by a specialist team of lawyers experienced both in providing advice and in litigation.
Research in 2021 indicates that 60% of employees have work that frequently or always involves repetitive movements. 24% of employees have work that often/always involves painful...
Belgium Employment and HR
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Research in 2021 indicates that 60% of employees have work that frequently or always involves repetitive movements. 24% of employees have work that often/always involves painful or tiring postures (including sitting still for long periods). Analyses also show that Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) are one of the main causes of long-term absences. The new Royal Decree of 19 March 2024 on ergonomics at work and the prevention of MSD sets out guidelines and obligations for employers and employees to create an ergonomically responsible working environment.

The new Royal Decree adds new provisions to Book VIII of the Code on Well-being at Work regarding ergonomics and the prevention of MSD, which came into force on 25 May 2024.

1. Definitions

The Royal Decree defines the following concepts:

  • Ergonomics: an approach aimed at adapting work, including the workstation and the work environment, to the human being, taking into account their physical, mental, psychological, and social characteristics, and which must be applied in all areas of well-being at work;
  • Musculoskeletal disorders: health problems related to musculoskeletal structures such as muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and joints, and manifested in particular as disorders of the back, neck and upper or lower limbs and caused or aggravated by musculoskeletal risks at work;
  • Musculoskeletal risks at work: the likelihood of one or more employees experiencing physical harm, such as MSD or other health problems, as a result of exposure to biomechanical or other risk factors at work, on which the employer has an impact.

2. Purpose

The Royal Decree aims to significantly reduce work-related MSD by promoting systematic and proactive measures, thereby improving both the health of employees and the productivity of companies.

3. Key points

The main points of the Royal Decree are:

  1. Risk analysis and evaluation: Employers must conduct a comprehensive risk analysis when designing, arranging, or modifying workstations to identify and evaluate ergonomic risks in the workplace. This must consider a non-exhaustive list of biomechanical factors such as working postures, repetitive movements, and physical load. The internal prevention advisor and, in certain cases, the prevention advisor-ergonomist should be involved in the risk analysis.
  2. Preventive measures and evaluation: Based on the risk analysis, the employer must implement appropriate preventive measures following prior advice from the Committee for Prevention and Protection at Work (CPBW). This may include adjusting workplaces, providing ergonomic tools, and organising work schedules to reduce physical strain. The employer must evaluate the measures in place and whenever there is any change that may affect workers' exposure to musculoskeletal risks.
  3. Global prevention plan and annual action plan: The results of the risk analysis and prevention measures are included in the global prevention plan and, if applicable, in the annual action plan.
  4. Information and training: Employees and the CPBW must regularly receive information and appropriate training on musculoskeletal risks at work, including the nature of the risks and biomechanical and other risk factors, preventive measures, the role of the hierarchical line, health monitoring, and the procedures for detection and reporting. This should enable them to also contribute to an ergonomically responsible work environment.
  5. Health surveillance: Employers should take the necessary measures to provide appropriate health surveillance to employees exposed to musculoskeletal risks.

Action point

Every employer is obliged to carry out a risk analysis of musculoskeletal risks at work and take appropriate preventive measures. These measures must be regularly evaluated, involving the appropriate stakeholders.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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