About the Program

Musculoskeletal (MSI) injuries occur when the ligaments, muscles and tendons become injured. It is helpful to understand how these common injuries occur through observing the signs and symptoms.

A person who is experiencing an musculoskeletal injury may experience one, many or no symptoms at all. Each individual is unique.

MSIs are one of the most common injury types experienced by employees. Field-based employees sustain the greatest number of work-related MSIs, but an MSI can affect anyone. Regardless if you work in the field or an office environment, we are all at risk of experiencing a MSI.

Signs, Symptoms and Stages of MSI


Musculoskeletal Injuries are identified through common signs and symptoms. A person who is experiencing an MSI may experience one, many or no symptoms at all. Each individual is unique.

Signs and symptoms can appear suddenly or gradually over time. Below lists the observable signs and symptoms of MSI.

Observable Signs: Redness, Swelling, Decreased Range of Motion

Symptoms: Pain, Weakness, Tingling, Numbness, Stiffness, Tenderness to touch

Stages of Musculoskeletal Injuries


If left untreated, Musculoskeletal Injuries may progress to have a greater impact on functioning and overall well being. The table to the right shows the progression of MSI in stages if the injury cycle is not disrupted.

Stage 1: Discomfort for weeks / months. Signs, symptoms are easily reversible with rest.

Stage 2: Discomfort lasts for months / years. Symptoms occur more quickly, last longer and work becomes difficult to perform.

Stage 3: Symptoms are usually always present. Sleep is consistently disrupted and all activities throughout the day are affected and recovery becomes more difficult.


Lifting, Carrying and Grip Force

Force as a MSI Risk Factor is defined as the amount of effort our bodies must use to lift objects, to use tools, or to move.

Poor grip, too much weight, bad posture and even temperature can have immediate damaging effects or cause difficult to detect long term problems later in someone’s life.


Reaching, Twisting, Kneeling, Squatting & Bending

Work Posture refers to positioning body parts and holding that position to complete a task.

A good or neutral posture is one where the joint is stronger and where it does function well. Conversely, awkward postures over time, can lead to fatigue and increased risk of developing MSI.

Repetition & Duration

Lack of variety for a long period of time

Repetition and duration are defined as movements performed continuously using the same motions / muscle groups without adequate recovery time.

Repetition combined with other risk factors such as duration, force or awkward postures can quickly become a MSI hazard while performing a job task.

Contact Stress

Pressing muscles and/or tendons on sharp or hard surfaces

Contact stress is concentrated pressure on a small part of the body.

This pinching or crushing of tissue causes discomfort and often pain on the localized area.

Vibration & Jarring

Work performed with vibration

Vibration is the transfer of energy to the body from an external source causing an oscillating motion.

Vibration and Jarring can occur in areas that are unexpected like getting in and out of a vehicle, using power tools and even on your work commute.

Cold Temperatures

Work performed in cold temperatures

When the body is cold, the muscles have an increased risk of tearing during work.

Proper warm up and staying warm when working outside is vital to minimizing the chance of injury.

Hot Temperatures

Work performed in cold temperatures

Exposure to high temperatures can contribute to burns, dehydration, heat stress, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

Personal Risk Factors

Worker as a dynamic individual with controllable and uncontrollable risk factors

Vibration is the transfer of energy to the body from an external source causing an oscillating motion.

Personal Risk Factors are defined as an individual’s state of health, fitness, life style and work habits.  When assessing MSI risk factors at work it is beneficial to understand that there are controllable and uncontrollable risk factors. Controllable risk factors are those that you can control and they all impact you directly.

Enhance Your MSI Initiative!


Visual products are a crucial way to support your message within your organization.  


Add Safety Talks to your MSI program to get the message out into the field.


Need an Icon, Logo or a Powerpoint Template for MSI?  Click here.

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