Overview of resources available by health and safety systems in Ontario and other provinces

An executive summary of the environmental scan surveying health and safety resources across Canada

In order to assess the current practices for musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention in Canada, CRE-MSD conducted an environmental scan of resources provided by 23 health and safety associations and service providers across Canada.  A special focus was given to the availability of resources for small businesses and resources specific to MSD prevention.

For eleven organizations in Ontario and twelve organizations in Canada, the materials and services offered by each organization as depicted on their respective websites were analyzed. For each association, reviewers completed a report sheet for a consistent approach and a final summary report was generated following the review.

In Ontario, MSD prevention resources were offered by all health and safety websites to some degree. While some had more resources than others, the resource that was relied most heavily on and linked by all eleven websites was the current MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario and the accompanying toolboxes. The information for MSD prevention was frequently not centralized nor emphasized and sometimes difficult to access. Many websites mentioned ergonomic or MSD hazards but did not follow up with implementable controls or a program to address these hazards. Six of the eleven organizations offered resources targeted towards small businesses, however many of the materials were not comprehensive or detailed. The remaining websites claimed that the general resources offered were applicable for all business sizes.

Twelve websites which represented each of the remaining provinces and territories in Canada were used to distinguish the best practices and the available health and safety resources at a national level. However, one limitation of the review was that the other provincial websites used were primarily Worker Compensation Boards (WCB) which have a primary goal of providing services for injury compensation and claims. As a result, these websites had less materials provided for on management and information about health and safety and MSD prevention. In order to accurately assess the current resources, a more in depth scan of other provincial health and safety associations apart from WCBs would need to be completed. Despite this, the review of the WCB site for each province and territory imparted a suitable overview of resources throughout the country. The existing MSD prevention and ergonomics materials should be expanded and developed more thoroughly. Additionally, there were few resources for small businesses. Only five out of the twelve websites had information and materials dedicated to smaller workplaces. Nevertheless, many of the general resources were detailed enough to be useful for small businesses.

Despite the risk for MSDs in the workplace, there is little practical information for implementation of an MSD prevention program. Furthermore, the large majority of workplaces in Ontario, and many workplaces in Canada are small businesses, yet there are few resources produced specifically for their unique structure and diversity. It is essential for resources to be easily accessible by these organizations since they are presented with more limitations and challenges in regards to the development of an efficient and comprehensive health and safety and MSD prevention program. These shortfalls of the current resources need to be addressed in the new MSD prevention guideline for Ontario.

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