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


  • 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. There are specific approaches to recognizing and assessing MSD hazards and selecting and implementing controls. Assessment methods range from simple hazard identification questions to quantitative methods. 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 are the preferred approach to MSD hazard control as “lifting properly” and job rotation have not been shown to be effective as MSD hazard controls. Therefore, they should not be used as the only control.


  • Prevention of MSD and reduction of MSD can be problematic for some H&S Representatives and OHSCs. This might be due to their unfamiliarity with the specific approaches to recognizing MSD hazards and controls. MSD Prevention might also be perceived as too big a problem, as most jobs have some degree of MSD hazard. Specific training in these topics is necessary. 


  • 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:

  • The Quick Start Guide 

    • This resource is written in non-technical language and may be useful in recognizing some key aspects of workplaces that are important for the development of MSD.

  • Guideline Processes Based on Management System 

    • Management processes such as Plan, Do, Check, Act (PDCA), Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems (OHSMS) such as CSA Z1000, CSA Z1004, ISO 45001, are receiving more interest in Ontario. It has recently been argued that for maximum effectiveness and sustainability, MSD prevention should be integrated into the organization’s management system. The Guideline is written as using the structure and language of management systems, and the specific resources to prevent MSD within the management are specifically identified.

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


MSD prevention site factsheet

What's New?

Welcome to the new MSD Prevention Guideline site. We are working hard to develop it further. Look out for new content, including more "Hazards and Controls" . 


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.

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