Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) Prevention Manual

Learn to identify, eliminate, and control the sources of workplace musculoskeletal disorders with this resource manual.

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In Canada, musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) account for the most lost time injuries, the highest lost-time claim costs, and the most lost time work days of any type of injury. Worker's compensation board figures from various jurisdictions indicate that MSDs account for 25% to 60% of total annual compensation claims.

MSDs are often painful and disabling. They can interfere with all kinds of tasks at work, at home, and in recreation. Even in early stages, recovery from MSDs often requires months or even years of treatment. In severe cases, there may be permanent disability.

This manual is a resource for employers and workers to help identify, eliminate, and control the sources of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) in their workplaces. This manual focuses on how manual material handling tasks contribute to MSDs. It provides techniques to help eliminate injuries, and provides guidelines for the development of a MSD program for your workplace.

The purpose of this manual is to:

  • Help you identify and understand the risk factors causing musculoskeletal disorders for manual material handling tasks and,
  • Provide guidance and tools for developing a MSD prevention program.


This manual explains what musculoskeletal disorders are, how and why they occur, and how to identify the risk factors that cause them. The manual also outlines how to develop a program that is focused on the elimination of MSD risk factors from workplaces, with emphasis on manual materials handling which includes lifting, pushing, and pulling tasks.

NOTE: The information in this publication is based on best practice principles and techniques. The purpose of this manual is to provide guidance, rather than prescribe specific requirements, and is not intended as a legal interpretation of any federal, provincial or territorial legislation.

Target Audience

The focus of this manual is the identification and elimination of risk factors related to MSDs. Everyone at the workplace will benefit.

  • Employers will be able to reduce the number of injuries and illnesses by implementing a MSD prevention program
  • Health and Safety Committee members and Health and Safety Professionals will find this guide a good resource for reducing risk factors and helping to develop a MSD prevention program
  • All employees can use the information and case studies in this manual to understand their risks and get guidance in best practices that will help reduce MSD injuries.


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CCOHS publications are unique in that they are developed by subject specialists in the field, and reviewed by representatives from labour, employers and government to ensure the content and approach are unbiased and credible.


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