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Ergonomics in the Workplace

What is Ergonomics?

Ergonomics is “the scientific study of the relationship between people and their working environment with a view to improving safety, ease of action and efficiency.”1

Goal of Ergonomics

The goal of ergonomics is to prevent ergonomics related hazards, which can contribute to musculoskeletal disorders. A musculoskeletal disorder (also known as MSD) is a soft tissue injury that can affect muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and nerves2.

Causes of MSDs

In the workplace, specific things that can cause a MSD are:

  • Fixed or constrained body positions
  • Continual repetition of movements
  • Force concentrated on small parts of the body, such as the hand or wrist
  • A pace of work that does not allow sufficient recovery between movements

Signs and Symptoms of MSD

  • Inflammation
  • Redness
  • Decreased range of motion
  • Loss of function
  • Tingling
  • Numbness
  • Stiffness
  • Pain/tenderness
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Decreased grip strength

What can employers do?

  • Identify and assess job-related MSD hazards
  • Implement policies and procedures to reduce workers’ exposure to MSD hazards
  • Advise and train workers on MSD hazards in their jobs and workplaces
  • Encourage workers to report MSD symptoms or concerns to their employer/supervisor
  • Ensure preventative measures are working through re-assessments and follow ups

What can employees do?

  • Be aware of workplace health and safety policies and procedures
  • Report workplace hazards (including OHSA violations) to supervisor or employer
  • Know your rights to refuse unsafe work


  1. Ontario Ministry of Labour (2013). Prevent Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs) in Health Care Workplaces. Retrieved from
  2. Mohawk College (2012). Occupational Health and Safety. Retrieved from