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House Statement
by the Honourable Kevin Flynn
Minister of Labour
Regarding: Annual International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day

  • Issued: February 25, 2014
  • Content last reviewed: February 2015

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Saturday, February 28th, is the annual International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day.

The goal of this special day is to raise awareness of the debilitating nature of repetitive strain type injuries and ways to prevent them.

Each year we mark Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day to promote avoidance of such injuries, which – while they may not be life-threatening – can be painfully life-altering.

At the Ministry of Labour – and throughout Ontario’s health and safety system – we use a broader term: musculoskeletal disorders – or MSDs for short.

This term describes injuries and disorders of the musculoskeletal system that can be caused or aggravated by not only repetitive work, but also by forceful exertions, fixed or awkward postures, vibration and other physical causes.

But regardless of what we call them, preventing such injuries is always better than trying to cure them after the fact.

These injuries are taking a tremendous toll.

They account for more than 40 per cent of all lost-time injuries allowed by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

Beyond the pain, suffering, social, emotional and economic costs to affected individuals are the economic costs to all of us – estimated at more than $26 billion annually.

We can do better than this.

These injuries are entirely preventable.

Ontario workers and employers have numerous resources to help protect against often-painful MSDs.

These resources can be found through my ministry, through the WSIB, through our health and safety partners across Ontario, and many other sources interested in worker health and safety.

And year-round, the Ministry of Labour and its partners continue to

  • Enforce workplace legislation
  • Raise awareness of hazards
  • Train workplace parties, and
  • Research the issue of MSDs and how to prevent them.

During workplace visits, the ministry’s occupational health and safety inspectors focus on:

  • Ensuring workplaces have a functioning internal responsibility system
  • Identifying hazards, including MSD hazards, and
  • Ensuring compliance with health and safety legislation.

Ministry of Labour occupational health and safety inspectors receive training in MSD hazard recognition.

Employers are responsible under the Occupational Health and Safety Act to take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect the health and safety of their workers.

This includes protection from workplace hazards that could lead to musculoskeletal disorders.

Ministry inspectors and ergonomists issue orders under the Act and regulations requiring employers to:

  • Implement measures addressing MSD hazards for ergonomic assessments and related preventive measures.
  • Complete ergonomic assessments, and
  • Provide worker training to prevent MSDs.

Our government is committed to reducing MSDs in Ontario.

Of course, there remains much more to do.

One MSD is one too many...especially when you consider that MSDs are entirely preventable.

We must continue creating positive change.

We must continue to promote a culture of prevention.

If we work together, we can achieve our goal of safer, healthier workplaces throughout Ontario.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.