Ontario will focus on hazards involving musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) during a two-month workplace safety blitz starting Sept. 15. (Read PEM‘s previous coverage of these injuries.)
Ministry of Labour inspectors will target workplaces in the construction, healthcare, industrial and mining sectors. They will check for hazards that can lead to MSDs, such as tasks that put workers in awkward postures, tasks that are repetitive and tasks that require workers to exert force when lifting, pushing or carrying items. They will also check whether employers have in place training and procedures for those tasks.
The increased enforcement is part of the province’s Safe At Work Ontario blitz strategy. Safe workplaces increase productivity and put less strain on Ontario’s health care system.
“Musculoskeletal disorders continue to be the number one cause of injuries in which workers in Ontario need to take time off work," said Peter Fonseca, Minister of Labour. "The Ontario government and its health and safety partners are committed to eliminating all workplace injuries, including those involving MSDs.”
- MSDs are injuries and disorders of the muscles, tendons and nerves that can develop as a result of continued exposure to repetitive work, awkward postures and other factors.
- In 2008, 43 per cent of all lost-time injuries involved MSDs, more than 33,000 injured workers.
- Due to a drop in the annual rate of lost-time injuries, employers have avoided about $5 billion in direct and indirect costs during the four years ending March 31, 2008. Reduced injuries also result in less strain on the health care system, and fewer workers off the job means increased productivity for Ontario’s economy.
- Ontario employs 430 full-time occupational health and safety inspectors.
- An enforcement blitz involving MSD hazards in April 2009 resulted in 4,541 orders being issued under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Of those, 601 orders related to MSD issues.