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Engineering Professional

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Ergonomic Design Standards

Engineers are heavily involved in creating our built environment, including workplaces. Design decisions impact the human operators in the work system: i.e., workers. Recognizing key risk factors for MSD permits the creation of safer, more productive operations producing higher quality products and services.

The Canadian Standards Association (CSA) has created standards describing how to systematically apply principles of ergonomics in a workplace. The standards will help "enable an organization to enhance worker health, safety, and well-being and optimize system performance to prevent occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities and/or reduce the severity of harm related to occupational activities and work environments". Refer to these standards to design ergonomic workplaces.

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Opportunities for Ergonomics and MSD Prevention with Six Sigma

As an engineer you have knowledge, experience and information to design and modify workplaces. Commonly, general improvement and problem-solving techniques are used, such as Six Sigma. Companies that use Six Sigma to improve quality, safety and productivity, can also use Six Sigma tools for musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) hazard identification, problem solving, and reduction.

Learn More About Six Sigma and MSD Prevention
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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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Our guideline selector will ask you a few questions to help determine which guideline will be the best fit for your organization. Each guideline follows the same structure, making it easy to switch between them as needed.

MSD Guidelines


Preliminary Assessments

These tools typically contain a list of questions with either yes/no or multiple-choice style responses to note the presence or absence of an MSD hazard and some of its characteristics.

Detailed Assessments

Detailed assessments include observational evaluations and comprehensive analyses.

Hazard Controls

The hierarchy of controls is a system developed by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) that ranks hazard controls from most effective (elimination) to least effective (personal protective equipment). Learn more about the Hierarchy of Controls.


Removes the source of the MSD hazard to eliminate exposure.


Replaces with another approach that reduces the risk of MSD.


Modifies the design of the physical workplace to remove or block the MSD hazard from the worker by machinery, tools or equipment.

Supplementary Guideline Resources


Step 1

Demonstrate Management Commitment and Leadership

Step 2

Facilitate and Encourage Workers’ Participation

Step 3

Plan Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment

Step 4

Conduct Hazard Identification and Risk Assessments

Step 6

Control Hazards & Implement Changes to Achieve Targets & Goals

Step 7

Provide Education and Training

Step 8

Evaluate Controls, the Program and the Organization’s Performance

Step 9

Document Lessons Learned and Stakeholders’ Feedback

Step 10

Review Processes, Achievements, and Identify Areas for Improvement

Additional Resources

See All Resources for Engineering Professionals

View a curated collection of resources in the resource library.