October is Global Ergonomics Month, an initiative aimed at advancing safer and more comfortable environments in the workplace and beyond.
Front and centre for the awareness campaign is the prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (MDSs), which are classified as painful injuries to muscles, ligaments, tendons, and nerves caused by repetitive strain or injuries. According to Ontario’s Workers Health and Safety Centre (WHSC), MSDs are common in the workplace and can come at a high cost to employees and employers alike.
“The most common response to suggestions for ergonomic change in the workplace is ‘It’s too expensive.’ With the economic burden of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in Canada estimated to be $22 billion annually and a significant number of these disorders attributed to related workplace hazards, nothing could be further from the truth,” WHSC states in a 2016 report.
Global Ergonomics Month is being observed by numerous organizations throughout Canada. WorkSafeBC’s 2019 Ergonomics Forum, for example, is set to take place on October 10 at the WorkSafeBC Auditorium in Richmond. This year’s theme, Prevention through Design, will highlight “the importance and benefits of considering the health and safety of workers before the design of a project or task. In this early stage, there’s an opportunity to create an inherently safer work environment to reduce the likelihood of injury.”
Ontario’s Ministry of Labour is also partnering with health and safety partners across the province to present ergonomic-themed events. Several highlights include:
- October 2-3 (Sudbury): Physical and Cognitive Job Demands and Health in an Aging Workforce, a conference sponsored by the Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD)
- October 3 (Toronto) / Oct. 17 (Oshawa) / Oct. 29 (Ottawa): Conducting Office Ergonomics Assessments, a training event sponsored by Workplace Safety and Prevention Services (WSPS)
- October 16 (Online): Developing a Comprehensive Safe Patient Handling Program, a webinar sponsored by (CRE-MSD)
- October 21 (Waterloo) Adverse Outcomes Associated with Occupational Exposure to Whole Body Vibration: Making a Health, Safety and Business Case, a lecture at the University of Waterloo sponsored by CRE-MSD
- October 23 (Kitchener): Ergonomics Explained, a conference sponsored by WSPS.