Costs of Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD)

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are injuries that primarily affect the soft tissue structures of the musculoskeletal system including tendons, ligaments, muscles, nerves, joints, and spinal discs. They occur over time due to cumulative exposure to MSD hazards (e.g. force, repetition, awkward posture) or combination of hazards, with symptoms ranging from slight discomfort to intense pain or muscle tightness to limited range of motion.

Within the workplace, such injuries can lead to significant costs to the employer. Some direct costs may include:


The employer is often stuck with the insurance coverage costs for the injured employee as well as any fees or surcharges due to poor health and safety (e.g. WSIB premiums and surcharges). In addition, benefits premiums can increase with increased use of benefit services by employees.


With an MSD lost-time claim, the employer may be required to pay the wage of the injured employee on the day of the injury as well as covering wage benefits while the worker is off with their injury.

Indirect costs (often more challenging to measure) can be estimated at 4-7 times the direct costs! These may include:


The employer may be required to cover the cost of training and orientation for new employees, costs for investigating and reporting on MSDs, and additional time spent completing the necessary forms (e.g. WSIB forms) and any subsequent reports.


With the loss of an experienced employee due to MSDs, there is the potential for disruptions to production rates, efficiencies and product quality.

The overall costs of a workplace MSD injury can be larger than you think. Time to get to work on addressing the hazards in your workplace that can contribute to an MSD injury!

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