Workers should play an active role in OHS in general, and MSD prevention in particular, by participating in designing the workplace and workstations, training and awareness, recognizing hazards, planning control actions, and using controls to eliminate hazards or reducing exposures to hazards including those related to MSD.

Action 2.1: Workers’ Participation 

Workers' participation in multiple aspects of the OHS and MSD prevention program is an essential component of effective prevention activities. Worker participation needs to be incorporated throughout the OHS program design and implementation including prevention of MSD. Workers should have access to the information they need to participate effectively in the prevention of MSD. Workers are encouraged to participate in any OHS related activities and the organization should ensure that workers feel comfortable and welcomed to share their concerns and suggestions.

How to do it? 
  • The organization should take advantage of workers’ experience and knowledge to recognize and assess MSD hazards and to suggest effective solutions to eliminate them or reduce exposure to them.
  • The organization should facilitate workers' participation by training them to recognize the symptoms of MSD and the work-related hazards that might contribute to the development of those symptoms.
  • The organization should organize training sessions for workers to train them on the use of controls that have been implemented to reduce exposure to MSD hazards.
  • The organization should involve workers in the identification of MSD hazards, reporting pain and discomfort, and planning and implementing changes to work tasks or jobs
  • Supervisors and managers should assure workers that their participation will only be used to improve their working conditions.
  • Contractors, subcontractors, and temporary staffing agency workers should also participate in MSD prevention activities.

Action 2.2: Facilitate participation and remove barriers for participation 

In order to ensure effective participation of workers in health, safety, and MSD prevention, the organization needs to facilitate workers’ involvement. To achieve effective and meaningful participation of workers, the organization should ensure that workers inputs are well received. Some barriers may prevent active engagement of workers. These barriers may include language, skill levels, education, and fearing retaliation or discrimination for speaking up. The organization should remove these barriers to facilitate effective participation of workers.

How to do it?
  • Supervisors and managers should facilitate worker participation and solicit worker input throughout all steps of the OHS program, including MSD prevention, and provide necessary time and resources for workers to participate.
  • Supervisors and managers should assure workers that their participation will only be used to improve their working conditions.
  • Supervisors and managers should provide necessary time for workers to be able to participate in prevention activities.

 Action 2.3: Communication 

Communication plays an important role in ensuring workers buy in and active engagement in MSD prevention. The organization should communicate with its workers about ongoing efforts to improve OHS and to prevent MSD. The ongoing communication should facilitate workers participation and encourage active involvement of all internal stakeholders in MSD prevention activities.  

How to do it?
  • Supervisors and managers should facilitate open discussion about OHS and hazards, including MSD, through toolbox talks or staff meetings. The Quick Start Guideline provides some examples for toolbox talks.
  • Supervisors and managers should provide necessary information to workers regarding the OHS program, including MSD Prevention, and other relevant issues. Some of the recommended material is provided in this guideline.
  • Management should protect and encourage workers right to know, right to participate, and right to refuse unsafe work related to MSD hazards by allowing their engagement in all aspects of the MSD prevention program.
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