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MSD Prevention Series Available to Reduce Strain on Businesses and Workers

The Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) Prevention Guideline for Ontario and Resource Manual for the MSD Prevention Guideline are now available to help every workplace in Ontario (and Canada) recognize, as...

July 1, 2007  By Pulp & Paper Canada

The Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) Prevention Guideline for Ontario and Resource Manual for the MSD Prevention Guideline are now available to help every workplace in Ontario (and Canada) recognize, assess and control hazards that could lead to painful and costly MSDs.

The combined direct and indirect costs of MSDs are staggering. Left unaddressed, MSDs threaten both worker health and safety and a mill’s economic performance.

The resource manual contains information on implementing the process described in the guideline. It also contains information on understanding and recognizing MSD hazards, risk assessment and hazard controls.


The guideline and resource manual outline the primary MSD hazards of force, repetition and awkward or fixed postures, and also deal with the secondary hazards of contact stress, vibration, cold temperatures, hot environments and work organization and methods.

Both documents emphasize that workplaces should look for hazards before they become a problem. Workplaces can look for potential hazards by reviewing existing data sources such as WSIB claims, employee reports of discomfort and absenteeism. Once hazards are identified, workplaces can prevent potential MSDs by actively seeking input from workers, incorporating MSD hazard identification into regular workplace inspections and using hazard identification tools on existing jobs.

The resource manual points out that an MSD risk assessment can be done simply by the workplace parties jointly identifying the existence of MSD hazards and determining the root causes of these hazards. There will be times however, when a more detailed assessment will be required. In these cases, in-house staff or external consultants with experience, knowledge and training in MSD mechanisms and prevention may be required.

The guideline and resource manual state that whenever there is an elevated risk of workers developing an MSD, suitable controls should be implemented. Controls may be in the form of workstation modifications, equipment design/availability, environmental adjustments and/or job design/organization. The importance of controls is stressed by emphasizing the necessity of evaluating the short-term and long-term impacts of the control.

The next document to be released under the MSD Prevention Series will be the MSD Prevention Toolbox. Its release is anticipated later in 2007. It will contain worksheets, surveys, hazard identification tools and guidance on risk assessment methods.

MSDs have been a significant workplace disorder for many years. Preventing these disorders has been an ongoing challenge. With a user-friendly guideline and supporting resource manual and tools, employers and workers now have a solid framework to refer to while addressing these disorders.

The guideline, resource manual and draft toolbox are available free from PPHSA’s web site (www.pphsa.on.ca).

Cindy Hunter is the program/communication specialist at the Pulp and Paper Health and Safety Association

Identify potential risks to workers

* Work that places the elbows above shoulder height, or the hands behind their bodies

* Tasks that call for frequent bending or twisting of the necks

* Work requiring frequent or prolonged grasping and holding of objects or frequent wrist movements

* Work that requires frequent lifting of items from below knee height or above the shoulders

* Work requiring frequent bending or twisting at the waist

* Tasks that involve carrying, lifting, pushing or pulling heavy or awkward loads

* Work requiring long periods of time with a body part held in any one position without movement.

Common areas of the body affected by MSDs

* Shoulder, back and spine* Arms, elbows and forearms

* Legs, knees, ankles and feet* Hips and groin

* Wrists, hands and fingers* Neck, chest

Setting up an MSD Prevention Framework Toronto — October 18, 2007

A workshop on the musculoskeletal prevention program will be held in Toronto, using the new MSD Prevention Guideline and Tools, presented by Jonathan Tyson (MASc, CPE, PPHSA ergonomist, project manager, OHSCO MSD Prevention Strategy). This workshop will walk participants through the new MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario and show you how you can implement an effective MSD prevention process.

Each of the elements in the framework (described in the Guideline) will be covered and you will learn how different techniques and tools, such as those provided in the soon-to-be-released MSD Prevention Toolbox, can be used to help recognize, assess and control your company’s MSD hazards. Current MSD prevention efforts will be discussed and the effectiveness of these approaches will be reviewed.

Please come ready to talk about the MSD prevention activities/ efforts you have implemented or are currently using in your workplace.

Space is limited. To register, please call Lorraine Breckles (705) 474-7233 ext. 285.

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