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BACKGROUNDER

Blitz Focuses on Musculoskeletal Disorders


Hazards that can lead to musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) will be the focus of a two-month blitz in September and October 2013 at health care workplaces across Ontario.

The increased enforcement is part of the province's Safe At Work Ontario strategy, launched in June 2008.

MSDs are injuries and disorders of the muscles, tendons, nerves and spinal discs. They can develop as a result of ongoing exposure to such things as repetitive work, forceful exertions such as heaving lifting and pushing, and awkward postures that can affect the bones, joints, ligaments and other soft tissues.

During the blitz, Ministry of Labour inspectors will check for MSD hazards involving client handling and manual materials handling that can lead to MSDs.

In 2011, there were:

  • more than 23,000 lost-time MSD injuries
  • a loss of more than 536,000 working days and
  • more than $71 million in medical and WSIB costs from new claims in 2011

In the healthcare sector, about 46 per cent of all lost-time injuries involve MSDs. In 2011, there were:

  • more than 3,000 lost-time MSD injuries
  • more than 55,000 working days lost and
  • more than $8 million in medical and WSIB costs from new claims

Blitz Focus

Ministry inspectors will visit types of workplaces known to have high frequencies of MSD hazards and/or injuries. In the health care sector, this includes long-term care homes, health and community care services, and retirement homes.

Inspectors will take enforcement action, as appropriate, if they find violations of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and its regulations.

Priorities

Inspectors will focus on the following key priorities:

Client Handling: Inspectors will check on the lifting, repositioning and transferring of clients, patients and residents.

Manual Materials Handling: Inspectors will check on manual tasks involving the lifting and lowering, pushing, pulling and carrying of objects.

Carts: Inspectors will check on the use and maintenance of carts in support service areas such as housekeeping, food preparation and maintenance.

Other Health and Safety Initiatives for Health Care Workers

The Ontario government has a number of initiatives to improve the health and safety for health care workers.

  • The Ministry of Labour's Health Care Sector Plan 2013-2014 outlines the ministry's enforcement focus for the health care sector.
  • In 2009, the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care launched the Healthy Work Environment Innovation Fund to support the development of 18 projects that would identify, develop, and provide tools and leading practices to address workplace violence prevention, worker safety and respect in the workplace.
  • Since 2011, the ministry conducted nine enforcement blitzes in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other health care workplaces. The blitzes focused on infection prevention and control and other health and safety issues.
  • A Health and Community Care webpage is available on the ministry's website to help workplace parties become more aware of their OHSA roles and responsibilities.

Jonathan Rose, Minister's Office, 416-326-7709
Matt Blajer, Communications Branch, 416-326-7405

ontario.ca/labour-news
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