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Human Resources Professional

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Understanding MSD

Musculoskeletal Disorders (or MSD) at work is an umbrella term for a number ofdifferent kinds of injuries and disorders of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, bone and nerves. Many body areas can be affected. The low back is the most commonly frequently affected, followed by the shoulders, neck, elbow, hands and wrists.
Common physical hazards that can lead to MSD include:

  • High forces
  • Awkward postures
  • High repetition

These hazards can be found on their own, or in combination with each other. Other hazards that can lead to MSD include vibration, local contact stress, and temperature (cold).

Learn more about MSD
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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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Don't know how to get started?

Try our guideline selector, 3 questions to understand your organization's needs to direct you to the right resources.

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.

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.


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.

Supplementary Guideline Resources

Step 6

Control Hazards & Implement Changes to Achieve Targets & Goals