The ABC’s of MSD’s

May 22nd, 2008

The ABC's of MSD's

by abyrne

The ABC’s of MSD’s

by Anne Duffy

Originally published in Canadian Facility Management & Design

Publication date: May 2008

In April 2008, the Toronto Chapter of IFMA held an ergonomics seminar. The evening included a presentation by
Anne Duffy, Ministry of Labour Provincial Ergonomist, on the Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Prevention
Series. Last year, the Occupational Health and Safety Council of Ontario (OHSCO) released a 36-page Guideline
and an 80-page Resource Manual in this series. OHSCO, whose supporting organizations in addition to Ontario’s
Ministry of Labour include the Institute for Work & Health, the Construction Safety Institute and the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (Ontario), has now released a three part Toolkit (“Getting Started,” “Beyond Basics,” and “More on In-depth Risk Assessment Methods”), which completes the series.

As OHSCO defines them, MSDs are “injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system; they may be caused or aggrevated by various hazards or risk factors in a workplace.” Medical diagnoses covered by the term include back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, muscle strain, and tendonitis. Workplace hazards that may be linked to MSDs include: force, fixed or awkward posture, repetition, contact stress, localor hand/ arm vibration, hot or cold
temperatures, work organization, and work methods.

Ms. Duffy noted that MSDs are the number one type of work-related lost time claim reported to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) in Ontario. MSDs account for 42 per cent of all lost-time claim costs, and 50 per cent of all lost-time days. “We are using the term ‘musculoskeletal disorder’ rather than ‘musculoskeletal injury’ because we want workplaces to be addressing problems workers are having before they would be calling it an injury,” she said.


Terry Cassaday, president and CEO of Mississauga-based ergoCentric Seating Systems, spoke at IFMA Toronto Chapter’s recent ergonomics seminar, on the importance of having appropriate seating for all workers, not
just most workers. “Our workforce from a physical point of view is becoming more diverse than ever,” he said. Mr. Cassaday offered tips on how to choose seating that is ergonomically suitable for every employee:

1. GO MODULAR: Specify seating from companies that offer a range of seat -size, back-height and arm options.

2. ASSESS A MANUFACTURER’S FLEXIBILITY: Find out whether a manufacturer is willing and able to modify its seating for those who are the furthest from being an ‘off-the-rack’ fit – and find out how this will affect the price.

3. GET INDEPENDENT ADVICE: Before you buy, bring in a third-party ergonomist to assess bids from competing manufacturers.

4. CONSIDER HAVING MORE THAN ONE STANDARD: Having one standard chair for most of your workforce and an alternative standard for those who aren’t well served by the first option may be the right way to go.

5. ASK ABOUT FOLLOW-UP: If employees don’t understand how to adjust and use their ergonomic chairs, they won’t get the full ergonomic benefits from them. Find out what a manufacturer offers in the way of client training sessions.

Read the full article here.

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