|Employer/Manager Workers Small Business Supervisor JHSC Member Health and Safety Ergonomist Healthcare Professional Engineering Professional|
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).
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.
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.
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.
Ergonomics Programs or Participative Ergonomics are frequently used for MSD Prevention. Incorporating MSD Prevention into the organization’s management system offers many advantages.