Joint Health and Safety Committee & Health and Safety Representative


A worker with a clipboard in a manufacturing facility highlighting the role of workers as health and safety representatives in MSD prevention.

Rights and responsibilities


In Ontario, “The health and safety representative, or the joint health and safety committee (JHSC) where applicable, contribute to workplace health and safety because of their involvement with health and safety issues, and by assessing the effectiveness of the IRS.” For more information, please refer to the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the Internal Responsibility System (IRS).





Five Fast Facts for Joint Health and Safety Committees & Health and Safety Representatives



  • MSD hazards are still covered by the “General Duty Clause” 25(2)(h), It remains the employer’s responsibility to identify and control their hazards


  • The 3 primary MSD hazards include high forces exerted by workers, awkward postures and repetition. 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. There are specific approaches to recognizing and assessing MSD hazards and selecting and implementing controls. Assessment methods range from simple hazard identification questions to detailed assessment tools. Training on these specific topics by competent instructors should be done. Participation of workers in MSD prevention activities is especially important. 


  • Changes to the work environment is the preferred approach to MSD hazard control compared to administrative controls, such as “lifting properly” and job rotation. Administrative controls on their own have not been shown to be effective as MSD hazard controls. Therefore, they should not be used as the only control.


  • Specific training on MSD and associated hazards by a competent instructor is required for H&S Representatives and JHSC to identify MSD hazards in the workplace and assist in the development of controls. Participation of workers in MSD prevention activities is especially important. 


  • Prevention of MSD is sometimes the responsibility of a separate “Ergonomics” committee or program. This has the advantage that it permits a sub-group of the committee to focus on ergonomics as a way of preventing MSD. The downside is that this small group may become separated from the main health and safety program, fall “off-the radar”, and become ineffective.

Joint Health and Safety Committees & Health and Safety Representatives may find the following sections of the Guideline of interest:




Joint Health and Safety Committees & Health and Safety Representatives may also find the following of interest:







MSD prevention site factsheet

What's New? 


We are working to continuously develop the MSD Prevention Guideline. Watch for new content, including more resources and case studies.



MSD prevention site factsheet



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


Sad Face Icons

Case Studies 


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



Question mark



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




WSIB's Health and Safety Excellence Program


Why join?


Keeping your team safe and healthy at work is good for business. WSIB's Health and Safety Excellence program provides a clear roadmap to improve safety in your workplace, whether you're just getting started or want to improve systems and processes you already have in place.


No matter how large or small your business is, the Health and Safety Excellence program can help. Connect with a WSIB-approved provider who can help you address your business’s unique health and safety challenges – and you can earn rebates for the work you do to improve your workplace health and safety. 


Check out the Health and Safety Excellence Program website for more information on the program and the benefits.



Click to view page content references

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):
Search Icon