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Health and Safety Professional

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MSD Hazards in the Workplace

There is strong evidence that physical factors in the workplace greatly increase a person’s chance of developing a Musculoskeletal Disorder (MSD) and make worse an existing MSD on return to work. Despite this evidence, it is common to ignore the contribution of the workplace and blame a worker’s low back or shoulder pain on individual factors such as “gardening”, “susceptibility” or “genetics” instead. This argument does not take away from the substantial and separate contribution of work to the development and worsening of MSD.

Learn more about MSD hazards
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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.


Changes to the work organization and work practices to reduce exposure to MSD hazards, such as job rotation, pace of work, training, breaks, etc.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Barriers between the worker and the hazard that are worn by the worker.

Additional Resources

See All Resources for Health and Safety Professionals

View a curated collection of resources in the resource library.