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Safety Matters


Our blog discussing workplace safety opportunities in Nova Scotia and around the world.

How to prevent Nova Scotia’s most common workplace injury

Year after year, more than half of the Nova Scotians who are injured at work experience a sprain or strain injury, also known as musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs). 

As reported earlier this week, sprains and strains accounted for approximately 59 per cent of all time-loss claims in 2022. The back was the most commonly injured body part, accounting for more than 22 per cent of all time-loss claims.

Find more 2022 statistics in WCB Nova Scotia’s 2022 Impact of Workplace Injury Report.

With just a few simple adjustments, most of these injuries were completely preventable. Learn more about musculoskeletal injuries, the risk factors and how to prevent them in your workplace below. 

What are MSIs?


The term MSI is used to classify injuries caused by excess demand on the soft tissues of the body. This includes tendons, muscles, or nerves, with injuries regularly involving the neck, shoulders, elbows and wrists. Common injuries are carpal tunnel syndrome and lateral epicondylitis or “tennis elbow.” 

Risk Factors

Any physical task that is performed regularly has a degree of risk for developing an MSI. In Nova Scotia, these types of injuries are common for workers in health care, construction, fishing, or any field where lifting, exertion or repetitive tasks are integral to the job. 

Movements such as reaching, gripping, and lifting occur every day and do not typically result in injury, but risk of injury increases when these movements involve one or more of the following factors: 

  • Frequent repetition, or doing the same movement over and over again
  • Improper posture
  • Managing heavy physical loads
  • Inadequate breaks

Signs and Symptoms

In addition to understanding the risk factors for MSIs, it’s important to identify the warning signs early. Work adjustments and treatments are more successful when applied during the initial stages of injury. Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Pain
  • Joint stiffness
  • Muscles aches
  • Redness and swelling
  • Numbness and tingling 

If you are experiencing signs or symptoms of an MSI, talk to your employer or health and safety representative about making accommodations as soon as possible, and seek medical attention if necessary. 


Most MSIs are preventable with a few simple adjustments to your workspace and routines. 

Education and Awareness 

Awareness is the first step to reducing the occurrence and severity of MSIs. Talk with colleagues and employees about the risk factors and warning signs. WCB Nova Scotia has lots of great resources to help facilitate conversations about the importance prevention in your workplace. 

Hazard Identification and Control

Workstations and jobs can be assessed to minimize or eliminate risk factors through design (i.e. mechanical lifts) or controls such as job rotation to reduce worker fatigue. Our Risk Mapping Tool will help you identify problems areas and possible solutions. 


Employees should understand controls and how to adjust workstations to reduce the likelihood of fatigue and injury. Download our MSI Prevention Guide to get started. You can follow along as I take you through the guide and show you how to apply simple and effective changes in your workplace: 

To learn more about MSIs and how they can be prevented, please visit:

Return to Work

Safe, healthy work can often be an important part of recovery from workplace injury. Most sprains and strains can be treated right away, sometimes on the same day with a WCB-approved health care provider. 

If you’re able to stay at work or return to work during your recovery, your health care provider will help determine what work you can safely do. Learn more at

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