Employer/Manager Workers Small Business Supervisor JHSC Member Health and Safety Ergonomist Healthcare Professional Engineering Professional

Healthcare Professional

Paramedics providing care for a patient to highlight the role of healthcare professionals as stakeholders in MSD prevention.

A health care professional may be involved in MSD prevention activities for workers without MSD, for treating workers with symptoms to help them stay at work (SAW) and with workers attempting to return to work (RTW). They may stay within a clinical role but may engage with the workplace to better craft accommodation and understand the challenges facing workers during SAW or RTW.

This guideline does not address medical management of injured workers.

For MSD, information about physical and work organizational factors at work are very helpful in both treatment and accommodation. In Ontario, this information may be recorded in a Physical Demands Analysis.  For more information, please refer to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Internal Responsibility System (IRS).

Five Fast Facts for the Healthcare Professional


  • There is strong evidence that physical factors in the workplace and how work is organized greatly increase a person’s chance of developing an MSD and also aggravate an existing MSD upon return to work.  Despite this evidence, it is common for some to ignore the contribution of the workplace and blame a worker’s low back or shoulder pain on individual factors such as “gardening”, “susceptibility” or “genetics” instead. This argument does not take away from the separate and substantial contribution of workplace MSD hazards to the development and aggravation of MSD.


  • Key MSD hazards include high forces exerted by workers, awkward postures, repetition, vibration, local contact stress and cold. One or more of these are seen in tasks such as lifting from the floor; twisting when lifting; working with arms overhead; gripping or holding objects or tools for extended periods, especially in a non-power grip; using vibrating tools; prolonged standing and long hours working with a computer.


  • Job rotation, “lifting properly” and most types of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) have not been shown to be effective as MSD controls by themselves. None of them should be used as the only control for MSD hazards: changing the work is necessary.


  • For low back pain, lifting objects from the floor is the largest risk factor, rather than the object weight alone.


  • People differ in the level of MSD hazard that causes injuries and disorders, just like any other occupational hazard, such as noise. So reports of pain and discomfort of one or a number of workers act as an early warning sign that some job tasks are overloading parts of the body. If multiple people show similar patterns of pain doing comparable work, it greatly increases the likelihood that a substantial MSD hazard is present in their work. This does not mean a single worker’s report can be ignored however.

The Healthcare Professional may find the following sections of the Guideline of most interest:

  • The Quick Start Guide

    • This resource, written in non-technical language, may be useful in understanding some key aspects of workplaces that are important for the development of MSD and that may act as barriers to SAW and RTW.

Employer/Manager Workers Small Business Supervisor JHSC Member Health and Safety Ergonomist Healthcare Professional Engineering Professional


MSD prevention site factsheet

What's New?

Welcome to the BETA site for the new MSD Prevention Guideline. We are working hard to develop it further. Look out for videos of MSD Hazards, sections on MSD Controls and for case studies.


MSD prevention site factsheet

Introduction Factsheet

Download the factsheet introducing the new MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario.


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Success Stories

Read success stories and case studies about preventing MSD. These stories may apply to your workplace and help you make the right decision. 


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Frequently Asked Questions

There are lots of myths about preventing MSD at work. With good information and actions, MSD can be prevented


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DISCLAIMER: CRE-MSD receives funding through a grant provided by the Ontario Ministry of Labour. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Province.

Workplace Solutions to Back Pain, Shoulder Tendinitis, Tennis Elbow & Other Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD):
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