MSD prevention

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) refer to injuries of the muscles, ligaments and other soft tissues, including back, neck, shoulder and wrist pain. They are also known as repetitive strain injuries and cumulative trauma disorders. IWH conducts a wide range of research on MSDs—exploring how often they occur, what work-related factors contribute to them, their treatment and functional assessment, and the system- and workplace-level prevention and return-to-work programs that can help prevent and manage them.

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Tools and guides

Supporting return to work among employees with musculoskeletal or mental health conditions: an evidence-based practical resource

This resource synthesizes the research evidence on the practical solutions that workplaces can implement (in conjunction with workers' compensation, insurance and health-care authorities) to support the return to work of employees with musculoskeletal disorders or mental health conditions.
Published: May 2019
IWH Speaker Series
IWH Speaker Series

Introducing the new MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario

The Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD) kicks off Global Ergonomics Month with the launch of the new MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario. This initiative builds on a previous guideline and toolboxes, developed in 2005-2006 by the Ontario health and safety system under the auspices of the Occupational Safety and Health Council of Ontario (OSHCO). In this presentation, CRE-MSD's Dr. Richard Wells provides an overview of the updated content and the host of tools and resources to meet the needs of workplaces of all types and sizes. He also outlines the new guideline's three interlinked sources: Quick Start (an introductory guideline for micro and very small businesses), Basic and Comprehensive.
Published: October 2018
Journal article
Journal article

Identifying return-to-work trajectories using sequence analysis in a cohort of workers with work-related musculoskeletal disorders

Published: Scandinavian Journal of Work, Environment & Health, January 2018
Systematic Review
Systematic Review

Effective workplace-based return-to-work interventions: a systematic review update

This report synthesizes the evidence from a systematic review on the effectiveness of workplace-based return-to-work interventions and updates the Institute's 2004 systematic review on the same subject. This update brings in evidence published since 2004, and expands upon the original systematic review by including work absences due not only to musculoskeletal disorders, but also to mental health and pain-related conditions.
Published: February 2017
Product guide
Product guide

Using IWH research to prevent MSDs

This guide to IWH resources points ergonomists, kinesiologists and other workplace musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention specialists to tools, guides and information products from IWH that can help ensure evidence-based information is incorporated into MSD prevention policies and practices.
Published: February 2017
Management and workers at K-W Hydro share a chat
Impact case study

Reduced soft-tissue injuries at Ontario utility attributed to work by ergonomics team set up during IWH study

Ten years after it took part in a participatory ergonomics study, Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro's change team was still going strong.
Published: December 2016
OHS Insider logo
IWH in the media

Making the business case for safety: Case study shows benefits of participatory ergonomics continue for years

Implementing a participatory ergonomics program takes time and money. To get your company’s senior management on board with such a program, show them this case study from the Institute for Work & Health (IWH), which shows how an Ontario utility continued to benefit years after implementing a participatory ergonomics program.
Published: OHS Insider, October 2016
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Sharing Best Evidence

What workplace programs help prevent upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders?

Upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) include painful conditions and injuries of the muscles, tendons, joints and nerves that affect the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands. This update of a previous systematic review sets out to find occupational health and safety (OHS) interventions that effectively prevent and manage upper extremity MSDs.
Published: October 2016