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Controlling the risk means that risk to workers is eliminated or minimized. Engineering controls - physical changes to the work environment - are often the most effective controls for employers to put in place.
Administrative controls - such as job rotation or enlargement - can sometimes minimize exposure to the risk. (With an administrative control like job rotation, whether the risk is reduced will depend on the task that the worker is rotated into.)
Personal protective equipment can be used only if engineering or administrative controls are not practicable (reasonably capable of being done). In addition, although it is not a legal requirement, it is good practice to consider the overall design of the work activity. An improvement in the injury rate can often be accomplished by changing "big-picture" aspects of work such as workload, staffing allocation, and shift rotations.
WorkSafeBC (Workers' Compensation Board) has produced a chart of common MSI risk control options (PDF 87 KB) to be used in selecting appropriate risk controls.
Training in material handling, including how to lift properly, can be part of an effective risk control strategy (as an administrative control). However, experience shows that training alone is unlikely to effectively control the risk or the incidence of injury. Where it is practicable (reasonably capable of being done) to eliminate the risk of injury by use of, for example, mechanical handling equipment, employers may find that implementing such measures (engineering controls) is the most effective risk control strategy.
Where a job has a significant risk of MSI that cannot be eliminated, the employer must provide equipment and/or safe work procedures to reduce the risk so far as is practicable. "Practicable" is defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation as "that which is reasonably capable of being done."
WorkSafeBC provides a number of examples of control measures in its chart of common MSI risk control options (PDF 87 KB).
Yes. Section 3.19(1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation requires an employer to maintain at the workplace, in a form acceptable to the Board, a record of all injuries that are reported or treated.
The legal requirement for employers to evaluate the effectiveness of MSI risk control measures is found in section 4.52 of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation.
The point of such evaluation process is to ensure that the risk control measures taken have eliminated or minimized the risk factors that were considered significant during the assessment process.
If workers are still experiencing problems with MSI, such as displaying early signs and symptoms of injury, additional control measures are required.
Evaluation of specific risk control measures should be done shortly after implementation. Evaluation to verify the overall effectiveness of the MSI prevention strategy must be done at least once a year.
Some ways to evaluate controls include:
Other methods to establish that the controls have effectively eliminated or minimized risk to workers may also be acceptable.
The evaluation process should be ongoing. This does not mean that it must be formally documented every time, For example, evaluation could be made part of the routine duties of a supervisor, or it could be included as part of a formal safety inspection. On formal occasions, it is good practice to document such evaluations.
The Occupational Health and Safety Regulation does not specify a maximum weight that a person can lift. Instead, the Regulation requires that where significant risk of MSI exists, a task be assessed.
The assessment should consider, at a minimum, the following factors:
All these variables - as well as the characteristics of any particular worker - affect how much weight an individual can lift. WorkSafeBC produces tools (worksheets and risk factor guidance sheets) dealing with many of these factors to assist employers when assessing material handling tasks. A list of these tools is provided in the FAQs on Risk Assessment.
Currently, there is no convincing evidence that back belts lessen the hazards of strenuous or repetitive lifting. In fact, some evidence suggests that back belts may actually increase a worker's risk of injury.
WorkSafeBC does not regard back belts as forms of personal protective equipment. In addition, WorkSafeBC does not support, require, or prohibit the use of such belts for injury reduction.
More detailed guidance on the use of backbelts is provided in WorkSafeBC's Ergonomics Commentary Back Belts May Not Prevent Injuries at Work (PDF 132 KB).
WorkSafeBC requires employers to eliminate or minimize the risk of injury - see the Ergonomics (MSI) Requirements (Sections 4.46 to 4.53) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation. WorkSafeBC advocates the 7-step process to help employers achieve compliance.
As part of the 7-step process to consult, educate, identify, assess, control, train, and evaluate, the following key elements should be included in a successful back-injury prevention program: