MSD Prevention Resources for Healthcare

Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) in Healthcare

Occupations within the healthcare sector continue to experience high rates of musculoskeletal disorders and lost time claims in Ontario, primarily due to manual handling of people and materials. In 2021, MSD lost time injury rates were 2 times above the provincial average and the sub-sectors with the highest rates of MSD included community care facilities for the elderly, home care services and hospitals. The nature of injury for the majority of these lost time claims were sprains and strains and 48% were for a back injury (WSIB, 2021).

A nurse assisting a patient to stand up

A person handling laundry in a hospital setting

A housekeeping staff member cleaning a patient bed in a hospital setting.

Resources on this page:

MSD Prevention Campaign in Health Care and Community Care 2023-2024

The Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development (MLITSD) is running a health and safety inspection compliance campaign on musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) prevention in the Health and Community Care sector. This campaign runs from April 1, 2023 – March 31, 2024.

Are you an employer, supervisor, joint health and safety committee member, health and safety representative, health and safety specialist or consultant in this sector? PSHSA, MLITSD and CRE-MSD hosted a joint webinar about the MSD prevention campaign on April 12, 2023, and a recording is available for more information.

Watch the webinar recording

Key themes to support the campaign

  • MSD prevention program development & enhancement:
    • How to integrate MSD prevention into your health and safety program
    • Enhancing your client/patient handling program
  • Organizational culture & psychosocial factors in the workplace: Understanding the impact on MSD
  • Preventing MSD during computer-based work in different work environments
  • Environmental and support services focus:
    • Equipment and techniques used for MSD prevention in support services
    • Work environment design based on tasks and workflow
  • Client/patient handling equipment, assistive aids and techniques

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MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario

Screenshot of the Guideline website home page

Did you know that workplaces are responsible for protecting workers from MSD hazards? MSD hazards are present in Health Care and Community Care workplaces. These hazards must be recognized, and precautions put in place to fulfill requirements under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA). The Act also requires employers to provide information, instruction and supervision to workers.

The MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario provides the framework for incorporating an MSD prevention policy and program into the workplace. The following versions are available to accommodate organizations of different sizes and structures:

Quick Start Guideline Basic Guideline Comprehensive Guideline
  • Designed for micro (1-5 employees) or small (6-19 employees) organizations
  • May have a Health and Safety Representative
  • May not have much knowledge and few resources in Health and Safety
  • May be unfamiliar with MSD and MSD prevention activities
  • Available in 2 themes based on the type of work tasks: General and Office
  • Designed for medium (20-100 employees) to large (>100 employees) organizations
  • Have a Joint Health and Safety Committee (JHSC)
  • Have a person or persons with knowledge, experience, and responsibility for Health and Safety
  • Have policies and procedures for health and safety and want to improve their MSD prevention activities
  • Designed for medium (20-100 employees) to large (>100 employees) organizations
  • Have multiple people and/or a department with knowledge, experience, and responsibility for Health and Safety
  • Have a formal management framework that is used to oversee the organization's activities
  • Familiar with Occupational Health and Safety Management Systems such as ISO 45001 or CSA Z1000
  • Have a management system for Health and Safety with comprehensive policies and procedures for health and safety and want to improve their MSD prevention activities.

Healthcare Specific Resources

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Client/Patient Handling Community of Practice

A nurse assisting a patient to stand up.

Nearly one half of MSD injuries in the healthcare sector (48%) are related to moving clients through lifting, transferring, or repositioning (WSIB, 2021). Clients have fewer falls, skin tears, pressure ulcers when safe handling programs are implemented. These involve more than just equipment and therefore, through this CoP, we present examples of current research on safe patient handling programs, policies that encourage the safest techniques, successful training and education programs, evaluation and improvement practices, and proven resources.

A team of healthcare professionals standing in a circle with their arms extended into the centre

This free community of practice (CoP) led by CRE-MSD, in collaboration with the Public Services Health & Safety Association (PSHSA) and VHA Home HealthCare, is a network group of over 1,200 diverse healthcare practitioners (e.g., nurses, personal support workers, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, kinesiologists, gerontologists, physicians), and related practitioners (e.g., ethicists, researchers, ergonomists, managers, human resource personnel, educators, etc.) across multiple settings (i.e., home and community care, long-term care, hospital, retirement homes, rehabilitation centres) supporting the prevention of MSD in the healthcare sector.

Learn more about the Client/Patient Handling CoP

Join the Client/Patient Handling CoP

Client/Patient Handling Resources

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Healthcare Presentations and Case Studies


Client/Patient Handling CoP Webinars (YouTube Playlist)

MSD Prevention Programs

Hazard Identification, Risk Assessment and Controls

Training & Techniques

Healthcare Conference (2015)

Reducing Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Healthcare Sector (YouTube Playlist)

Aging Conference (2014)

The Aging Workforce: Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (YouTube Playlist)

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