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Safety Matters


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

Preventing musculoskeletal injuries

In Nova Scotia, musculoskeletal injuries or MSIs are the most common type of workplace injury, accounting for about two thirds of all injuries reported to the WCB each year. Preventing MSIs begins with identifying the workplace hazards that cause them and adjusting the way the work is designed and carried out. Sometimes a simple change can make a big difference.

WCB Nova Scotia ergonomist Tamara MacKinnon spends a lot of her time helping workplaces adjust their work processes to reduce the risk of MSIs.

As an ergonomist and a registered nurse  with a background in emergency medicine, Tamara knows the impact these injuries have on workers, their families, workplaces and the community. She was part of the team that helped the WCB develop a new MSI Prevention Guide.

The guide offers a six-step process to reduce risk. The first step in is education and awareness.

“It’s really important for employers and workers to understand the potential physical impacts of the work they do over time,” says Tamara. “Once they understand the risks, it’s possible to make improvements.”

The second step is identifying the jobs, tasks, and work locations that pose the most risk, and then assessing and talking to workers about them.

Once a good level of understanding is achieved, employers and workers can work together to develop controls, learn how to implement them, and then evaluate them over time to assess their effectiveness. offers lots of tools and resources to help workplaces reduce their risk of MSI injuries.

In addition to the prevention guide, other resources include:

  • MSI tip sheets that offer risk mitigation strategies for 14 different tasks and working conditions
  • Downloadable posters to print or share

  • Videos

  • Other ergonomics resources, including an Office Ergonomics Guide that offers helpful workspace setup advice for the many Nova Scotians working from home during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Working from home can present unexpected MSI challenges so it’s important to try and make appropriate adjustments to your home workstation when necessary,” says Tamara. “Managing the height of your work surface, obtaining a neutral wrist posture and setting up a comfortable seated position is ideal. Using a makeshift rolled towel to provide lumbar support and a footrest may be helpful to reduce slouching. Remember to keep an arm’s length away from your monitor to aim for neutral posture of your neck, and take micro breaks throughout the day. Micro breaks promote movement and circulation which can help reduce feelings of discomfort.”

For a fun and informative online activity during Safety and Health Week, check out how your workplace can prevent back injuries and become Back Protection Agents, here.

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