Hazards, including hazards related to MSD, need to be proactively identified and assessed through a collaborative process.

Action 4.1: Anticipate MSD hazards 

The best and the most effective way to eliminate MSD hazards in the workplace is to anticipate and design out MSD hazards before workers work in new workplaces or re-designed spaces.

How to do it? 
  • The organization should have a process in place to anticipate MSD hazards before a work system is operational using, “pre-start safety reviews”, procurement policies and design reviews during: initial planning, detailed design, installation, operation, maintenance, and decommissioning.
  • All relevant stakeholders should actively participate in hazard anticipation by providing necessary information and engaging in hazard anticipation in all aspects of workplace design and re-design.

Action 4.2: Collect existing information to help Identify possible MSD hazards 

Although it is essential to design out MSD hazards in the workplace, it may not be easy to do so. Therefore, the organization needs to use existing information to identify possible MSD hazards when workers are working. The organization may use existing data including lagging or passive surveillance data. This could include data related to reports of hazards, injuries and discomfort including MSD.

How to do it?
  • The organization should analyze incidents and injuries, including those with reported MSD, to identify jobs or tasks with possible MSD hazards.
  • The organization should have a process to review workers’ compensation records and reports, including those related to MSD, (MSD lost time injuries and no-lost injuries) to identify jobs or tasks with possible MSD hazards. This is called passive surveillance of injuries, hazards and reports (not surveillance of workers).

Action 4.3: Collect workers’ input on hazards 

The organization should have a process to collect workers' input on specific hazards in their workspace and receive their inputs.  

How to do it?

Action 4.4: Put in place procedures to collect new information to help Identify possible MSD hazards 

The organization should collect new data on exposure to MSD hazards. This should be done through active collaboration with workers. This is called active surveillance of injuries, hazards and reports (not surveillance of workers).

How to do it?

Action 4.5: Conduct screening, hazard assessment, root cause analysis, and risk analysis 

The organization should go through a process to first screen for possible hazards, conduct root cause analysis for relevant MSD hazards and conduct a more in-depth risk analysis where necessary.

How to do it?
  • The organization should collect information about hazards (Including MSD) using information from multiple sources (Active and Passive surveillance): hazard identification, risk assessment (as needed), incident investigations, walkthrough inspections, workers reports, discomfort diagrams.  
  • The organization should  use results of simple checklist, inspections, workers comments, discomfort diagrams and previous reports of pain and discomfort to prioritize hazards for further analysis.
  • For each of the agreed-upon MSD hazards, have the workers brainstorm or discuss the root causes of the hazard. The organization should identify underlying root causes of MSD hazards by 5 WHY, fish-bone diagrams, brainstorming or other methods. Look at all of the factors that could cause the hazard. These factors can be categorized as process, equipment, materials, environment and human. For additional resources visit the Resource Library.
  • If an MSD hazard is well agreed by management, workers, and a practicable control that can be put in place soon is available, proceed to control and do not proceed to risk analysis yet.
  • If an MSD hazard cannot be eliminated, is not clearly identified or understood, or the root cause is unclear, move on to more in-depth MSD risk assessment
  • If an MSD hazard is not clearly identified or understood and a root cause cannot be determined after performing the in-depth MSD risk assessment, consider asking for help.
RACE diagram showing the recognize, assess, control, evaluate steps
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