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Identification and Implementation of Control

This refers to “Control” in RACE. This page talks about how to identify controls using the hierarchy of controls, and provides associated activities to identify controls in your organization.

On this page

  1. Identifcation of Controls 
  2. Related Resources


This refers to “Control” in RACE. The organization should have a process for identifying, and implementation of appropriate controls to address MSD hazards. This is the most critical step in prevention of MSD.  These control actions then need to be prioritized as a set of targets and goals. (Note: employers have the obligation to control all recognized hazards, including those related to the development of MSD). For more information refer to Step 5.0 of basic or comprehensive guideline.

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Identification of controls   

Before proceeding to identification of controls, check if:

  • MSD hazards have been identified (recognized) and preliminary or further risk assessment has determined that control of the hazard is needed. 
  • An in-depth “Root Cause Analysis” has identified the underlying cause(s) of the hazard.
  • The overall work processes are well understood – not just one workstation.
  • Participation of workers and other knowledgeable persons including technical specialists or supervisors has been secured.

If not, obtain the required information and participation

Hierarchy of Controls

Although attractive to some, worker focused actions such as “lift training” have NOT been shown to be effective for prevention of MSD. An in-depth Root Cause Analysis and the guidance of the Hierarchy of Controls below is essential in eliminating hazards and controlling risks in a sustainable way.

The organization need to identify training and education needs for successful prevention of MSD. 

Level in Hierarchy





Eliminate hazard

After MSD hazard is identified, the best solution is to eliminate it
  • Effective and no further action is required
  • May not be possible
  • Powered roller conveyor instead of carrying boxes

Substitute hazard

The hazard can be substituted with another approach that creates smaller MSD risks
  • Can be almost as effective as elimination
  • Substitution may still have risks of MSD
  • Ceiling lift for patients in hospital instead of manual transfer BUT high loading on shoulders to push lift with the patient in it

Engineering controls

Design of the physical workplace to reduce MSD hazards by machinery, tools or equipment
  • Effective long-term controls
  • Used by all workers
  • If installed and maintained, sustainable control of exposure to hazards
  • May appear expensive compared to administrative controls
  • Changing tools or modifying power or hand tools
  • Removing obstructions or adding adjustability

Administrative controls

Changes to work organization such as

  • work hours
  • breaks
  • job rotation
  • A wide range of controls are available
  • May not require physical changes to the workplace
  • Resources required for adherence
  • Training and retraining
  • Break scheduling shown to be effective for MSD prevention

Training and awareness

Designed to change a workers’ knowledge or behaviour such as

  • hazard awareness training
  • training in work methods
  • Hazard awareness and knowledge are required under some legislation
  • Ongoing costs associated with training
  • Ongoing costs of providing PPE
  • Resources required for monitoring adherence
  • "Lift Training” or “Job rotation” not shown to be effective for MSD prevention
  • Training in the USE of a specific control is critical for their effectiveness in MSD prevention (and safety)

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Barriers between the individual and the hazard that are worn by a worker
  • Considered cheap
  • Requires little change to the workplace or work organization
  • Ongoing costs for new PPE
  • Resources required for adherence to wearing PPE
  • Many types of PPE not shown to be effective for MSD even under good conditions
  • Only some anti-vibration gloves and knee pads shown to be effective
  • "Back belts” not shown to be effective as a general workplace control

Activities to identify controls

  • Use tools such as 5 Why and Fishbone Diagram to help determine the root cause(s) of the MSD hazard.
  • Use brainstorming sessions with workers to identify solutions that eliminate the root causes of MSD hazards or reduce their effects.
  • Use the resources in the resource library under 'Hazard Control' search filters
  • Use other resources on the internet, trade associations and other similar workplaces to identify solutions that others have found effective in eliminating reducing or reducing MSD related hazards.

If you require additional support, ask for help.

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Related Resources