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I supervise workers

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Understanding MSD

Musculoskeletal Disorders (or MSD) at work is an umbrella term for a number ofdifferent 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
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Rights and Responsibilities

In Ontario, “Supervisors are responsible for:

  • making workers fully aware of the hazards that may be encountered on the job or in the workplace;
  • ensuring that they work safely, responding to any of the hazards brought to their attention, including taking every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker.”
Please refer to the Internal Responsibility System
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Supervisors should:

  • ensure that everyone under their supervision is aware of MSD hazards on the job and is trained to do his or her job safely
  • look for MSD hazards during workplace inspections, job task analyses and discussions with workers, and when reviewing injury reports
  • reinforce proper working techniques and use of equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • encourage and support workers taking scheduled breaks
  • check that workers have adjusted their workstations to suit themselves and their work, and provide help as needed
  • support workers when they have questions or concerns
  • be aware of MSD warning signs and indicators, and
  • take action on reported MSD hazards and concerns and follow up with workers.
Learn more about your role in MSD prevention
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Worker feedback and supportive supervisor behavior

Worker feedback is extremely valuable and is a key component of a successful MSD prevention program . As a supervisor, you will be receiving this type of feedback and it is important that it is taken seriously.

  • Reports of pain and discomfort from one or more workers acts as an early warning sign that some job tasks are overloading parts of the body.
  • If multiple people show similar patterns of pain doing comparable work, there is a strong likelihood that a substantial MSD hazard is present in their work.
  • It is important to note that people differ in the level of MSD hazard that may cause problems for them, just like any other occupational hazard (i.e. noise).
Learn more about MSD hazards

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 Supervisors

View a curated collection of resources in the resource library.

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Want to search the resource library?

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

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