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MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario

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Guideline Development Process

The first Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) Prevention Guideline for Ontario was developed in partnership with the members of the Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO) and published in 2007. In 2016, CRE-MSD was tasked with updating the Guideline. This included evaluating the original Guideline, determining workplaces’ needs for prevention and synthesizing best practices with respect to MSD prevention. Further, CRE-MSD was tasked with developing new content and testing content with selected workplaces. Lastly CRE-MSD was tasked with developing a stand-alone website.

CRE-MSD initiated a collaborative process that included workers and workers’ representatives; employers and employers’ representatives; the Ontario Health and Safety System; sectoral, industrial and business associations; the Ontario Ministry of Labour; ergonomists and health and safety consultants.

The consultation process included workshops; presentations to and feedback from multiple meetings and conferences; an environmental scan; original reviews of the literature (published in the peer reviewed literature); interviews with key informants and a web survey. Original research on the prevention of MSD in micro and small businesses was also performed and published.

Based upon this information gathering, the following major priorities were identified:

  1. Target micro and small businesses with materials to match the structure of these organizations
  2. Include processes for implementing MSD prevention programs and activities that fit business processes
  3. Participation of workers is especially important for MSD prevention
  4. Make it easy for a wide range of individuals and organizations to access relevant information
  5. Make resources available in downloadable and modifiable formats

Scope of the Guideline

The Guideline’s primary purpose is to provide Ontario’s employers and workers with information and advice on a framework for preventing musculoskeletal disorders in the workplace.

Use of the Guideline

The MSD prevention approach presented in this guideline is consistent with better practices and is based on best current information and experience. The framework presents one way of addressing MSDs in a workplace. Other MSD prevention processes and programs may be equally effective. The information in the MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario and its related documents is generic and not targeted at any specific type of workplace, industry sector or work task. Although the specific hazards in jobs or tasks present in different workplaces vary, the underlying hazards that can lead to MSD are the same for all workplaces.

The primary audience for the MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario and the related materials are workplace parties including employers, managers, supervisors, workers, joint health and safety committee (JHSC) members, health and safety representatives (H&S reps) and workplace union representatives. Unions, employer associations, health and safety professionals, health and safety associations, ergonomists, and others may also find the information of use.

The material contained on this website is for information and reference purposes only and not intended as legal or professional advice. The adoption and/or use of the tools, information, and/or practices may not meet the needs, requirements or obligations of individuals or workplaces.

Specifically, the MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario and its related materials: 

  • Do not cover all of the legislated workplace health and safety requirements
  • Do not specifically apply to Early and Safe Return-to-Work programs
  • Do not address clinical issues of injury and treatment
  • Do not address issues related to personal wellness, fitness, diet or lifestyle
  • Do not describe the full scope of ergonomics as applied to the workplace

The guidance in this website does not, in any way, limit or reduce the obligations that workplace parties have under the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (R.S.O. 1990, Chapter O.1), or any of its regulations. Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) hazards that are present in the workplace must be recognized and precautions put in place to fulfill requirements under the OHSA.

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Page content references

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CRE-MSD strives to make all content accessible to everyone. Some documents and resources on this website were prepared by a third-party and may be inaccessible in their current format. Please contact CRE-MSD at if you would like any of these documents in an alternate format.

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CRE-MSD received funding through a grant provided by the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training & Skills Development (MLITSD). The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the Province of Ontario.

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The development of a New MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario was a multi-stakeholder initiative led by the Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) in consultation with representatives from the Ontario Health and Safety System, Ontario’s labour organizations, employer associations, and individual employers and workers. Their important contributions are gratefully acknowledged. The first edition of the Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) Prevention Guideline for Ontario is similarly acknowledged for providing materials that have been reused and modified in this Guideline.

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