Musculoskeletal occupational surveillance scheme (MOSS)

MOSS was a surveillance scheme that started in 1997, for consultant rheumatologists to report information on cases of musculoskeletal disorders thought to result from work. The UK Health and Safety Executive funded data collection for MOSS until the end of 2008 with COEH funding a further year of data collection (2009) before data collection stopped. A total of 290 consultant rheumatologists returned case reports to MOSS; most reported for one randomly selected month each year with a core group of about 12 reporting every month of the year.

For each reported case, rheumatologists were asked to provide information on diagnosis (assigning their case to one or more of eight main diagnostic categories*), age, sex, geographical region, job, industry and the event that was believed to have precipitated the diagnosed illness.

*The eight main diagnostic categories were as following:

  • Hand/wrist/arm
  • Elbow
  • Shoulder
  • Neck/thoracic/spine
  • Lumbar spine/trunk
  • Hip/knee
  • Ankle/foot
  • Other

A total of 3566 case reports were collected by MOSS during 1997-2009. The collection of the valuable data by this surveillance scheme helped to identify the areas and job categories at greatest risk from occupational musculoskeletal disorders. Although data collection from rheumatologists has now stopped, data on work-related musculoskeletal disorders are still collected from occupational physicians reporting to OPRA and from GPs reporting to THOR-GP, with approximately 40% of the cases reported to OPRA and 56% of the cases reported to THOR-GP being musculoskeletal. These data are important as musculoskeletal disorders remain one of the commonest causes of work sickness absence, and greater knowledge of these illnesses will help provide improved working conditions for future prevention.

Key outputs from MOSS

Data collected by rheumatologists reporting to MOSS have been used in numerous outputs ranging from requests for information from reporters and other interested bodies to annual provision of statistics for publication on the Health and Executive website. Key outputs include:

Further information

For further information regarding MOSS, please contact Melanie Carder:
+44 (0)161 275 8490

We would once again like to extend our thanks to all the rheumatologists who participated in MOSS