Is COVID-19 increasing the risk of MSI in your workplace?

Where there is a risk of developing a MSI, employers must identify risk factors, assess and eliminate or reduce the risk. This can be accomplished by involving the joint health and safety committee, talking to workers, following up on reports, tracking and looking at injuries as a start.

Review the risk factors outlined below to help highlight if workplace changes and other measures due to COVID-19 have created or increased the risk of MSI.

The primary musculoskeletal Injury (MSI) risk factors include:

  • forceful exertions
  • repetition
  • awkward or sustained postures
  • contact stress

Have COVID-19 control measures changed any of the following:

Have COVID-19 control measures changed any of the following: Y N If Y, please refer to links below
Awkward postures, for example from extended reaches, physical distancing and working with plexi-glass barriers, etc.? 1, 2, 11
Increased forceful exertions if performing manual handling or cleaning tasks alone? 1, 2, 3, 4, 12
Increased pushing/pulling and carrying distances because of changes to work area or workflow? 4, 5
High frequency activities, increased work volume or repeat handling due to less staff in area, work flow changes, or increased workload? 1, 2, 3
Challenges with storage, access and egress, and cluttered aisles? 6, 7
Overtime and/ or extended shifts? When MSI risk factors are present, this will increase duration of exposure increasing risk. 1, 2
Difficulty communicating with co-workers, customers, supervisors etc. creating conditions that can increase risk of MSI? 6, 7
Increased duration of work activities such as sustained seating (e.g. working online) or sustained standing (e.g. monitoring customer numbers), cleaning activities? 6, 7, 8, 11
Issues with heat stress with the use of masks? 10
Gloves increasing grip force required to grip loads and reducing dexterity? 6, 1, 2, 12

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, you must assess the level of risk for MSI. The links provided below lead you to tools and information you may find helpful to assist in the process of assessing risk factors.

Referral links

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We're here to help

For resources, please visit If you have questions about ergonomics, human factors or need help managing the risk of MSI in your workplace, please contact us at

WorkSafeBC, PO Box 5350 Stn Terminal, Vancouver BC V6B 5L5