Workers and Workers' Representatives


Rights and responsibilities


Group of workers completing office based computing tasks.

In Ontario, workers have the right to information, knowledge of hazards and to refuse unsafe work. The Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) gives workers the right to participate, the right to know, and the right to refuse work that they believe is dangerous to either their own health and safety or that of another worker. 


In Ontario, “Worker responsibilities include: reporting hazards in the workplace; working safely and following safe work practices; using the required personal protective equipment for the job at hand; participating in health and safety programs established for the workplace.”  Please refer to the Internal Responsibility System (IRS).




Five Fast MSD Facts for Workers and Workers’ Representatives



  • There is strong evidence that physical factors in the workplace greatly increase a person’s chance of developing an MSD and make worse an existing MSD on return to work.  Despite this evidence, it is common 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 substantial and separate contribution of work to the development and worsening of MSD.


  • Participation of workers in MSD Prevention activities is especially important for success. Workers can feel the effects of their work on their bodies: either as high effort, fatigue or pain. They therefore have information that no one else in the organization knows about. Report jobs or tasks that overload your bodies to your supervisors.


  • Specific approaches to recognizing and assessing MSD hazards, and selecting and implementing controls exist. Workers should receive basic training on these topics by competent instructors so they can participate effectively in prevention activities. 


  • 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 in preventing an MSD. None of them should be used as the only control for MSD hazards: changing the work is necessary. 

Workers and Workers’ Representatives may find the following sections of the Guideline of interest:


  • Quick Start Guideline: General 

    • This resource demonstrates common solutions to control MSD hazards that can be found in many workplaces.

  • Quick Start Guideline: Office

    • This resources provides solutions to control common MSD hazards in computer-based office work.

  • Worker Participation  

    • Participation of workers in MSD prevention activities is especially important for successful interventions.

  • About MSD

    • Learn about common signs and symptoms of different musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).






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.


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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.



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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.




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.



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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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