MSD Risk Factor Control

Once risk factors have been identified or confirmed via ergonomic evaluation, control measures must be developed in order to eliminate or reduce workers’ exposure to the risk(s). The Hierarchy of Control Measures is used when developing solutions to control workplace risk and can be effectively used to control the risk of MSD.

Hierarchy of Control Measures 

Elimination or substitution is the most effective level of controlling exposure to a risk factor. 

Elimination or Substitution

This is the most effective means of controlling workers' exposure to injury risk factors and involves modifying work processes to eliminate the associated risk. An example of elimination or substitution would be using a forklift rather than manually lifting heavy objects; in this case, the worker's exposure to lifting-related injury is completely eliminated whenever the forklift performs the lift.

Engineering Controls

Engineering controls involve making physical changes to a workstation or equipment to reduce worker exposure to risk factors. An example of an engineering control is an adjustable workbench for welders that allows them to reduce awkward postures in their neck and back by increasing the work height and bringing the work closer to the worker. Engineering controls are often applied to hand tool, equipment and workstation design, and to manual materials handling.

Administrative Controls

Administrative controls limit, but do not eliminate, workers’ exposure to risk factors. These controls often take the form of increased job task rotation or job enlargement, changes in work schedule arrangement, or an increase in the number of workers performing the job task to distribute risk. These options reduce the duration a worker is exposed to a risk factor, yet the physical characteristics of the risk factor may remain the same.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) & Education 

PPE and appropriate safety education regarding risk factors, the recognition of MSD signs and the recognition of symptoms may assist in reducing exposure to risk of injury.