Ergonomics regulations, inspections and investigations

Report an incident

Ergonomic injuries (overexertion and repetitive strain injuries) account for over 40% of the days lost from WSBC accepted time loss claims. Report an incident on the UBC Safety and Risk Services website. 


Musculoskeletal injury (MSI) risk factors are regulated under sections (4.46 to 4.53) of the BC Worker’s Compensation Act which places a legal responsibility on employers to identify factors in the workplace that may expose workers to a risk of MSI, assess the risk level and implement controls to eliminate or, if that is not practical, minimize the risk of musculoskeletal injury.

The purpose of the WSBC Ergonomics (MSI) Requirements (4.46 to 4.53) requirements is to eliminate or, if that is not practicable, minimize the risk of musculoskeletal injury to workers

Inspection checklist

Accident-incident investigations-ergo (MSI) related

Section 4.49 of the WSBC Ergonomics MSI Requirements outlines risk factors that must be considered, where applicable, in the identification and assessment of the risk of musculoskeletal injury (MSI). The information below is provided to assist you with your investigation, contact UBC’s Ergonomics Advisor if you require additional assistance.

Safe lifting

Risk factors (MSI)

There are several factors that impact the risk of developing a musculoskeletal injury (MSI). Risk factors are multiplicative; for example, awkward posture combined with force substantially increases strain on the body’s musculature system compared to either factor alone.

  • Posture
  • Force
  • Repetition & Static Load
  • Duration
  • Environment
  • Contact
  • Stress
  • Psychosocial


When considering the ergonomics of a workstation we look for a layout that facilitates a comfortable (neutral) working posture; workstations that require awkward postures not only increase the risk of musculoskeletal injury they also result in reduced efficiency. Not all awkward postures result in a high risk of musculoskeletal injury or reduced efficiency; whether changes need to be made will depend on how the risk factors interact.

Consider the following questions when looking for risk factors in your environment.

  • Does the task promote working in an awkward posture?
  • Does the layout of the work result in workers reaching away from their body or overhead?
  • Is the bench or table height adequate or does it promote bending, twisting or crouching?
  • How extreme is the awkward posture?
  • How frequent is that posture repeated or is it held for a sustained period of time?
  • Is any force applied while working in an awkward posture?

Risk factors are multiplicative: bending (awkward posture) combined with heavy lifting (force) places extreme stress on the spine.


Your lifting powerzone is within mid-thigh to waist level. Heavy items should only be placed on the ground if they will be moved with a dolly and not lifted; if you will need lift a heavy item, it should be stored within your powerzone.

Determining if an item can be safely lifted depends on multiple factors; you can lift less weight overhead or from the ground as compared to at waist level; likewise, your strength capacity is less if the load is awkward or if there’s no hand hold to firmly grasp the object.

Consider the following questions when determining if an item can be safely lifted:

  • How heavy is the object?
  • Can you get in close?
  • Is the object at waist level or overhead or at ground level?
  • Is the object an awkward shape?
  • Can you get a good grip on the object?
  • How many times do you have to lift?
  • Can a dolly be used rather than lifting the item?

About musculoskeletal injuries

Musculoskeletal Injuries (MSIs), also known as Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSDs), are injuries that affect muscles, tendons and ligaments, nerves, blood vessels or related soft tissue. These injuries can occur from overexertion, such as when lifting a heavy box, or from repeatedly using the same muscles over and over again as is the case with Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs). Examples of MSIs include Rotator Cuff tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and low back injuries involving ligaments, muscles or spinal discs.

MSIs make up approximately 30% of WorkSafe BC injury claims at UBC.

The Occupational Health & Safety Regulations require employers to identify and assess workplace risk factors in order to eliminate or if that is not practical, minimize, the risk of MSI to workers.

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