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Musculoskeletal Disorders – 1,2,3

Recognize, Assess and Control MSD on Your Job site

Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO)

Step 1: Recognition

  • Determine if there have been any injuries related to material handling;
  • Identify where the lifting/lowering, pushing/pulling or carrying tasks occur in the workplace;
  • Observe these tasks and talk to workers that are performing the work.

Step 2: Assessment

  • If a lifting/lowering, or a pushing/pulling hazard is identified in Step 1, determine whether the weights or force levels exceed the recommended guidelines outlined in the Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) Prevention Series (Part 3B: Beyond the Basics);
  • Watch for contributing factors such as twisting while handling material, inability to fully grasp material and having to extend the reach to grasp or place the material. These factors may lower the acceptable weight or force levels recommended.

Step 3: Control

  • If Step 1 and 2 have revealed that a risk of developing an MSD is present, control measures must be put in place.
  • Engineering controls, such as providing a mechanical means to move the material or reducing its weight, should always be looked at first to reduce or eliminate the hazard;
  • Administrative controls, such as adjusting work schedules, pace, or practices including training on how to lift specific materials, will help to reduce the exposure duration;
  • Personal Protective Equipment, such as gloves for a better grip or footwear for better floor friction, may also be required. Back belts are not considered to be PPE, and are not recommended.


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