MSD hazards are a risk like any other

Assess the hazards of MSDs at your workplace

MSDs

Identifying and controlling hazards in the workplace aren't new concepts. Hazards related to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) however, weren't considered a priority in the past. By treating MSD hazards as you would a chemical or biological hazard, risks can be identified and controlled – and that means reducing injuries.

IHSA statistics show that MSD-related injuries should be taken seriously. In 2018, the percentage of MSD-related lost-time injuries (LTIs) reported by IHSA member firms ranged from 25% to 67% of all LTIs that year. To learn more about MSD LTIs for specific rate groups, consult the table below.

 

Percentage of MSD LTIs by Rate Group in 2018

 

Series 1

Series 3

Series 10

Series 11

Series 12

Series 13

Rate Group Code
Accident Year
LTI Count
MSD
MSD - Not Classified
MSD Total
Percentage of MSDs
134
2018
52
12
1
13
25%
497
2018
69
27
1
28
41%
551
2018
220
105
5
110
50%
553
2018
277
106
8
114
41%
560
2018
512
224
14
238
46%
570
2018
2105
683
46
729
35%
577
2018
481
183
8
191
40%
580
2018
227
78
3
81
36%
584
2018
191
60
2
62
32%
681
2018
798
340
17
357
45%
689
2018
238
66
9
75
32%
704
2018
504
161
7
168
33%
707
2018
766
258
16
274
36%
711
2018
445
130
10
140
31%
719
2018
481
157
9
166
35%
723
2018
332
101
8
109
33%
728
2018
227
53
4
57
25%
732
2018
125
44
2
46
37%
737
2018
172
52
4
56
33%
741
2018
158
47
3
50
32%
748
2018
141
40
1
41
29%
751
2018
367
105
5
110
30%
764
2018
1177
327
15
342
29%
830
2018
159
64
2
66
42%
833
2018
35
8
3
11
31%
835
2018
110
46
2
48
44%
838
2018
6
4
0
4
67%
 

Risk Management

All tasks involve some level of risk, even when it's controlled. So it's up to the organization to determine what level of risk is tolerable. Risk management is a four-step process that involves:

  • 1. Identification of hazards
  • 2. Quantification of risk
  • 3. Implementation of controls
  • 4. Re-evaluation.

These principles can be applied to MSD-related risks just as any other risk.

1. Hazard identification can be handled in a variety of ways:

  • hazards can be identified by category across the organization as a whole
  • hazards can be identified by dividing the workplace by task, location, or role.

The method used depends on a variety of factors including the size and distribution of the organization. This information is the foundation of your hazard registry, a list of all hazards at your workplace.

When compiling your hazard registry useful information can be obtained from:

  • incident or injury reports
  • workplace inspection records
  • audit results
  • Joint Health and Safety Committee minutes
  • employee feedback or surveys.
 

2. Conduct a risk assessment to determine what tasks carry the most risk. The risk assessment is connected to the health and safety system and its results can be used in setting health and safety objectives and updating your health and safety policy.

3. Risk that falls into an unacceptable category (i.e., high severity and high probability) must be managed to reduce the level of risk. There are four main methods of control.

  • i. Elimination or substitution – the process of removing the hazard from the workplace or substituting it with something that is considered to be less hazardous.
  • ii. Engineering controls – making designs or modifications to the workplace, equipment, and processes.
  • iii. Administrative controls – altering the way work is performed. This includes policies and other rules and work practices such as standards and operating procedures.
  • iv. Personal protective equipment (PPE) – devices and equipment worn or used by individuals to reduce exposure (e.g., knee pads for workers who kneel or anti-vibration gloves for workers who use power tools).

These methods of control are ranked in order of implementation. Always attempt to eliminate or substitute a hazard first if possible. Second in order of importance are engineering controls, followed by administrative controls. As a last method of control, PPE can be incorporated to reduce the level of risk posed by a specific hazard.

 
Hierarchy of Controls 2018
 

4. Re-evaluation is important to ensure that the level of risk has been reduced to a tolerable level. In addition to re-quantifying the risk, it is important to assess and monitor the effectiveness of the controls that have been implemented. It is also important to re-evaluate your risk assessment to incorporate new processes, new equipment, findings from hazard and incident reports, etc.

 

Share your results

Your risk management program is only valuable if you explain it to staff and ensure everyone understands it. If everyone knows what's involved in risk assessment and the appropriate use of controls, this can lead to injury prevention.

There is risk associated with every activity and task. Every employee, from the worker on the front lines to the executive in the head office, ought to know about the MSD hazards associated with their position. As risk management is a continuous process, so too is the communication around risk management. As risk levels change and your risk assessment is updated, make sure to share new information with staff.

Here's how to learn more about MSDs and what you can do to prevent them:

 

See related articles:

 
Last Updated: March 4, 2020

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