Workplace Health and Safety Inspection for Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Hazards

It is important for the Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC) to include MSD prevention in its regular activities and inspections. One way this can be done is to look for and identify MSD hazards in the work being performed during workplace inspection walkthroughs. The JHSC should discuss MSD prevention issues and make suggestions to the employer. The following are sample cues to use during a workplace inspection for identifying tasks where there may be increased MSD risk. There is also a sample checklist provided on page 2.


Do workers:

  • lift, lower or carry objects that are, in their opinion, heavy
  • have difficulties pushing or pulling objects
  • perform tasks that require difficult and forceful gripping with their hands
  • use tools that require a great deal of effort to hold, control or use
  • use their hands to pound or hammer things

Fixed or awkward postures

Do workers:

  • work with their hands above their shoulders or held far away from the body
  • do tasks with one or both arms behind the body
  • bend or twist the back/trunk
  • bend or twist the neck forward, back or to the side
  • hold their neck to one side (e.g., holding phone between ear and shoulder)
  • bend or twist the wrist
  • pick up or hold things using difficult grips (pinch grips, wide-finger grips)
  • have too little space or clearance in their work area
  • stay in awkward postures for a long time without a change in posture
  • sit or stand for long periods of time without a change in posture


Do workers repeatedly:

  • lift, lower or carry objects
  • push or pull things when doing their job
  • grip or manipulate things with their hands or fingers
  • use awkward arm, hand or wrist postures
  • use awkward back or neck postures
  • use poorly designed hand tools
  • do tasks or use awkward postures that are not covered above
  • use hand tools that vibrate

Indicators of MSD-related problems

Do workers:

  • make comments about the job being very demanding
  • make their own modifications to tools or workstations
  • wear splints or supports
  • massage muscles or joints or shake their limbs because of discomfort
  • avoid certain tasks or jobs because of task-related discomfort or pain
  • make comments about discomfort or fatigue

Use this checklist to look for clues that can help identify potential MSD hazards and the tasks associated with the MSD hazard in the workplace. Incorporate this checklist into monthly JHSC inspections and safety walks. During inspection and walkthroughs, observe workers as they perform their tasks and speak to workers about their MSD related concerns. 

Use the examples within the checklist to start a conversation with workers to help identify potential MSD hazards and bring findings back to the JHSC for further discussion.

MSD Hazard

Do workers:

Check if


Observed in What Task? (Name of Task)


  • lift, lower or carry objects that are, in their opinion, heavy

  • have difficulties pushing or pulling objects

  • perform tasks that require difficult and forceful gripping with their hands

  • use tools that require a great deal of effort to hold, control or use

  • use their hands to pound or hammer objects


  • work with their hands above their shoulders or held far away from the body

  • do tasks with one or both arms behind the body

  • bend or twist the back/trunk

  • bend or twist the neck forward, back or to the side

  • hold their neck to one side(e.g., holding phone between ear and shoulder)

  • bend or twist the wrist

  • pick up or hold things using difficult grips (pinch grips, wide-finger grips)

  • have too little space or clearance in their work area

  • stay in awkward postures for a longtime without a change in posture

  • sit or stand for long periods of time without a change in posture


  • repeatedly lift, lower or carry objects

  • repeatedly push or pull things when doing their job

  • repeatedly grip or manipulate things with their hands or fingers

  • repeatedly use awkward arm, hand or wrist postures

  • repeatedly use awkward back or neck postures

  • repeatedly use poorly designed hand tools

  • repeatedly do tasks or use awkward postures that are not covered above

  • repeatedly use hand tools that vibrate

Other MSD Indicators

  • make comments about the job being very demanding

  • make their own modifications to tools or workstations

  • wear splints or supports

  • massage muscles or joints or shake their limbs because of discomfort

  • avoid certain tasks or jobs because of task-related discomfort or pain

  • make comments about discomfort or fatigue

Content sourced from the MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario (2007) Part 3B: MSD Prevention Toolbox

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