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

MSD can be prevented. Here you'll find information and step-by-step strategies to help keep your workplace safe and injury-free.


Select the appropriate Guideline

You may be a worker looking for information on low back pain or carpal tunnel syndrome or an organization looking to prevent musculoskeletal disorders. 

We have created ways for different groups and people to get more quickly to content that is most useful to them. 

Every organization is different and so the words “micro”, “small”, “medium” or “large” may not describe your organization well. To cater to the range of knowledge and resources in health and safety and ergonomics, we have created three parallel collections of resources for prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), Quick Start, Basic and Comprehensive Guidelines.

Based upon your self-assessment of your organization, you will be guided to the resources most likely to fit your size and resources. The three Guidelines share a common structure and language, so you can switch between them easily.

The Quick Start Guideline is tailored to organizations that:

  • Are small or very small (also called “micro” businesses)

  • May have a Health and Safety Representative

  • May not have much knowledge and few resources in Health and Safety

  • May be unfamiliar with MSD and their prevention

You may find that some of the Basic resources are also useful

The Basic Guideline is tailored to organizations that:

  • Have a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC)

  • Have a person or persons with knowledge, experience, and responsibility for Health and Safety

  • Have policies and procedures for health and safety addressing most hazards but want to improve their MSD prevention activities

You may find that the Quick Start Guide or Comprehensive resources are also useful

The Comprehensive Guideline is written for organizations that:

  • Have multiple persons and/or a Department with special knowledge, experience, and responsibility for Health and Safety

  • Have a formal management framework that is used to oversee the organization's activities

  • Are familiar with Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems such as ISO 45001 or CSA Z1000

  • Have a formal or informal management system for Health and Safety

  • Have comprehensive policies and procedures for health and safety that address most hazards but want to improve their MSD prevention activities.

Are you interested in learning how to conduct MSD risk assessment, including hazard identification, risk assessment, and controls? You may find the Quick Start Guideline and the MSD Risk Assessment Tool Picker useful.

The following table illustrates the underlying structure of the Quick Start, Basic and Comprehensive guidelines. 

Roadmap to success: Overview of the Ontario MSD Prevention Guideline


Demonstrate Management Commitment and Leadership

Senior Management provide the leadership, vision, and resources needed to implement an effective MSD prevention program within the organization’s overall Health and Safety program. Management is fully committed to continuously improving workplace health, safety and wellbeing.


Facilitate and Encourage Workers’ Participation

An effective OH&S program includes the meaningful participation of workers.  Workers know their jobs and are aware of potential hazards that are not known to others in the organization.  Support for open communication about health and safety hazards, including prevention of MSD, is critical.


Plan Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

A hazard identification and risk assessment process that includes hazards related to MSD is key for the prevention of injury and well-being. The management develops, implements, documents and maintains a risk assessment process that includes MSD hazards.


Conduct Hazard Identification and Risk Assessments

Perform hazard identification and risk assessment that includes hazards related to MSD, including anticipation of hazards being introduced by new equipment or processes.  A process that includes the understanding of the root causes of injuries, including MSD, facilitates the selection and implementation of effective controls. 

This element completes the first two parts of the Recognize, Assess, Control and Evaluate cycle.


Develop a Set of Targets and Goals to Eliminate Hazards & Control Risks

Effective controls protect workers from workplace hazards. They prevent injuries, illnesses, and incidents, minimize or eliminate OH&S risks including those related to MSD, and help employers provide workers with safe and healthy working conditions.


Control Hazards and Implement Necessary Changes to Achieve Goals and Targets

All the hazard identification, risk assessment and planning are for nothing if the necessary changes are not made including those related to MSD. This step is therefore of the utmost importance: of course, good planning is needed but the whole OH&S program must support this step for an effective program to protect workers’ health, safety and well-being and be more productive.

This element completes the third part of the Recognize, Assess, Control and Evaluate cycle.


Provide Education and Training

Legally, workers must know about workplace hazards, including those related to MSD, and measures that are in place to control them, so they can work safely.


Evaluate Controls, the Program and Organization’s Performance

Evaluate controls including those related to MSD. This should be done during implementation of the changes, shortly after their implementation and on an ongoing basis. To ensure that control measures remain effective, track progress in implementing controls, inspect controls once they are installed.

This element completes the fourth part of the Recognize, Assess, Control and Evaluate cycle for hazards, including those related to MSD.


Document Lessons Learned and Stakeholders’ Feedback

The OH&S program, including MSD prevention, is reviewed to identify gaps and barriers and areas for improvement. Report back to top management.


Review Processes, Achievements, and Identify Areas for Improvement

Management reviews the process and achievements and identifies areas for improvement. Management provides support for implementing measures to correct any deficiencies identified, including those related to MSD prevention.




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

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.