Understanding Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD)  

Musculoskeletal disorders, also known as MSDs, are injuries and disorders caused by sudden or frequent and repetitive movement, force, vibration, or positions that strain the muscles, nerves, blood vessels, tendons, joints, and cartilage in the body.  

The good news is that you and your employer can take the right steps to help prevent and manage MSDs in the workplace by making simple adjustments such as going through safety training and implementing good ergonomics. Let’s delve into understanding and preventing musculoskeletal disorders and look at tips that can help you in your everyday tasks.  

Causes and Risks

MSDs can be caused by tasks such as lifting heavy objects or typing on a keyboard for an extended period. Most work-related MSDs are commonly caused by overexertion and repetition of movements.  

Let’s look at several factors that can increase the risk of developing MSDs:  

  • Repetitive Motions: Specific jobs and activities require the repetition of the same motion repeatedly, putting stress on the musculoskeletal system. This can affect the wrists, hands, elbows, shoulders, and neck, with a higher risk of developing MSD.  
  • Excessive Force: Pushing, lifting, and pulling heavy objects can strain your back and cause injuries. Keep in mind when these duties are performed frequently and incorrectly, you can develop long-term injuries.  
  • Vibration: Tools and work machinery that vibrate can damage muscles, tendons, and bones.  
  • Awkward postures: Frequent bending, reaching overhead, and squatting can increase injury risk.  
  • Static postures: Being held in the same position for a long period of time without moving can cause muscle fatigue, increasing the risk of injury.  

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms of MSDs may vary depending on the specific disorder; however, symptoms may include:  

  • Pain, swelling, stiffness, numbness, or tingling in a muscle, tendon, joint, ligament, or nerve.
  • Reduced range of motion, loss of function, or difficulty moving a body part
  • Weakness in a limb or grip strength
  • Popping, clicking, or locking of joints.

Some of the most common forms of MSDs include carpel tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and back and disc problems.  

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s important you seek medical attention. A physician will be able to properly diagnose you after running imaging tests such as X-rays and CT scans. Getting an early diagnosis will help you get the right treatment.  

Preventing Musculoskeletal Disorders 

Preventing MSDs requires making the work environment safe with the proper training and ergonomics in every workstation. Whether you're moving equipment or lifting heavy objects, having a strategy that includes training and proper ergonomics is crucial to maintaining safety.  

Equipment such as adjustable workbenches, lifts, anti-fatigue mats (for concrete floors), and tools that fit each worker’s height and reach are required to ensure employees are performing their duties safely.  

Another prevention tactic is having your employees take regular breaks from repetitive tasks. Encourage them to stretch and move around to prevent strain and stress. Stretching helps relieve muscle tension, increases blood flow, and lets the body recover. Quick stretches that focus on the arms, shoulders, neck, back, and legs can help reduce muscle fatigue and significantly reduce employees' risk of developing painful and disabling MSDs.

How GMG Helps You Protect Your Employees

Protecting employees from developing MSDs requires a proactive approach by employers. This includes running an ergonomic assessment to identify risks and implement solutions tailored for each employee and their workstations.  

Another way is to provide training on proper lifting, working postures, stretching, and seeking medical attention if you see signs of early symptoms of MSDs. You should also include regular safety meetings that encourage employees to act and implement these strategies.  

GMG EnviroSafe understands that health and safety is a priority in the workplace and can provide you with the training, assessments, and innovative solutions to help your employees reduce MSDs.  


Understanding the causes, risk factors, and prevention strategies for MSDs is crucial for maintaining optimal musculoskeletal health. By implementing ergonomic practices, engaging in daily stretches and frequent breaks, as well as having a strategic safety plan, employees can reduce their risk of developing MSDs.  

Contact GMG EnviroSafe today to learn more about how our HealthAssure® program can help safeguard your employees from musculoskeletal disorders. Call 800-123-4567 or email info@gmgenvirosafe.com for a consultation on improving workplace ergonomics and safety.

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