MSIs—How to Protect Yourself
/ Author: CLAC Staff
/ Categories: Newsletters /
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MSIs—How to Protect Yourself

Work in construction often involves a lot of hard, physical, repetitive work. It is well established that this type of repetitive work may lead to the development of a musculoskeletal injury (MSI), which can cause painful and debilitating health conditions.

MSIs are injuries of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, nerves, blood vessels, or related soft tissue. They include sprains, strains, and inflammation to joints of the neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, legs, and back that may be caused or aggravated by work.

3 Signs

  1. Swelling
  2. Redness
  3. Difficulty moving a body part

4 Symptoms

  1. Pain
  2. Numbness
  3. Tingling
  4. Weakness

MSIs are at the top of the list for lost-time injuries, accounting for nearly one-third of injuries to Alberta workers.

3 Health Effects

  1. Muscle strain
  2. Tendonitis
  3. Carpal tunnel syndrome

In many cases, you may not even realize that the task you are performing carries a risk of sustaining an MSI. Be aware of the type of task you are performing and the potential effects it may have on your body.

4 Risk Factors

  1. Force – lifting, pushing, pulling, gripping
  2. Repetition – doing a task repeatedly with no chance for rest or recovery
  3. Work posture – awkward and static positions cause muscles, tendons, and ligaments to work harder
  4. Local contact stress – hard or sharp objects contacting the skin (tools, work surfaces)

How long and the degree to which you are exposed to each of these risk factors can greatly increase your chance of suffering an MSI.

If You Suffer an MSI

·        Report it immediately to your supervisor. An injury will have a better chance of being treated effectively if it is caught early.

·        It is critically important that you report all MSI injuries regardless of whether or not they result in lost-time injuries, because MSI injuries such as back strains, tendonitis, and carpal tunnel syndrome are often cumulative in nature.

·        Failure to report injuries opens the door to allow your employer to claim your condition was a preexisting injury, which may lead to your compensation claim being denied.

·        Follow up with your steward if you have suffered an MSI at work. Your employer is required to report all lost-time injuries. Often times this requirement is not followed, which means that the union is unaware that you have been injured.


·        Talk to a member of your health and safety committee, and find out what your employer is doing to prevent MSI injuries.

·        Has your employer conducted MSI risk assessments, eliminated or minimized the chance of workers suffering an MSI, and provided training and education about MSI risks?

·        Educate yourself on the dangers of MSI hazards and workplace solutions by checking out Musculoskeletal Injuries, Symptoms, and Types of Injuries booklet.

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