two people unloading a truck

Small Business Owner

retail worker reaching for produce

MSD Hazards in the Workplace

Well designed work considers how job demands might impact workers’ health and safety. Safe and healthy work allows workers to interact with their work environment without harm.

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. Awareness of common MSD hazards can help all stakeholders identify workplace factors that can contribute to MSD. When initial signs of discomfort or pain go unaddressed, this can lead to the development of MSD and may impact the ability to perform and enjoy tasks or leisure activities outside of work.

Fortunately, most workplace hazards that give rise to MSDs can be identified and eliminated with an effective MSD prevention program in place.

Learn more about MSD hazards
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Understanding MSD

Musculoskeletal Disorders (or MSD) at work is an umbrella term for a number of different kinds of injuries and disorders of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bone and nerves. Many body areas can be affected. The low back is the most commonly frequently affected, followed by the shoulders, neck, elbow, hands and wrists.
Common physical hazards that can lead to MSD include:

  • High forces
  • Awkward postures
  • High repetition

These hazards can be found on their own, or in combination with each other. Other hazards that can lead to MSD include vibration, local contact stress, and temperature (cold).

Learn more about MSD
two people in a manufacturing warehouse

Rights and Responsibilities

The responsibilities of small business owner are the same as for any other sized organization. In Ontario, “The employer, typically represented by senior management, has the greatest responsibilities with respect to health and safety in the workplace and is responsible for taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.

The employer is responsible for ensuring that the [Internal Responsibility System] IRS is established, promoted, and that it functions successfully. A strong IRS is an important element of a strong health and safety culture in a workplace. A strong health and safety culture shows respect for the people in the workplace.”

Learn more about the Internal Responsibility System (IRS)

Relevant Guideline Information


The Quick Start Guide posters describe common MSD hazards foudn in the workplace. There are two different versions; General and Office. The General Guideline is intended for any type of workplace, and the Office Guideline is intended for computer-based work.

Relevant Resources

Additional Resources for Small Business Owners

View a curated collection of resources in the resource library.

woman sitting on an office chair with her hands on her low back to indicate pain

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Find all the available resources on the MSD prevention website, including posters, videos, and links to relevant websites.

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