5th Apr 2024

Ergonomics is a safety topic that affects every worker, no matter what job or work setting they are in. Good ergonomic practices fit jobs and tasks to workers’ needs, which help prevent injuries. Practicing good ergonomics is as important for a worker who uses heavy tools as it is for an office worker who sits for long hours.  

The top three industries with the highest incidents of ergonomic injuries in the NWT and Nunavut are:

  • Government organizations
  • Retail industry and personal care workers
  • Construction and trades

Examples of ergonomic injuries include sprains, strains, tears, and nerve damage. These Injuries often lead to symptoms such as pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, loss of coordination, and unexplained weakness in the back, hands and wrists, arms and shoulders, and neck. 


Employers and workers both have important roles to play in reducing workplace injuries, and ensuring job tasks are fit to the employee. Employers’ and workers’ responsibilities under NWT and Nunavut OHS Regulations are listed below.

Employers must: 

  • Regularly review work activities at your worksite that could expose a worker to an ergonomic hazard. Involve the JOHS Committee, OHS Representative, and workers at in these reviews.
  • Provide information, instruction, and training to workers about ergonomic hazards and related safe work practices at the worksite.
  • Provide equipment that is designed, constructed, positioned, and maintained to reduce workers’ exposure to ergonomic hazards.
  • Implement appropriate work practices and procedures to reduce workers’ exposure to ergonomic hazards.
  • Include rest and recovery periods in work schedules, ensure workload varies as needed, or make other arrangements for alternating work to reduce workers’ exposure to ergonomic hazards.

Workers must: 

  • Use safeguards, safety equipment, and personal protective equipment that the employer requires at the work site.
  • Follow safe work practices and procedures at the worksite.
  • Participate in occupational health and safety activities at the worksite when requested.

Preventing Injuries

Identifying and discussing ergonomic hazards at your worksite is the first step to preventing these injuries. Some examples of common ergonomic hazards you can look for in your workplace include:

  • Repetitive movements: Results in using the same muscles repeatedly, often in the same way.
  • Poor workflow: A job setup that requires constant lifting, carrying, twisting, or repetitive motions to complete a task.
  • Sustained or awkward postures: Working in or holding a bent, twisted, extended, or flexed position to complete a job task.
  • Poor equipment design: Any tool or equipment that forces workers out of a natural body position.
  • Heavy lifting, carrying, pushing, pulling, and gripping: requires workers to use excessive force.
  • Vibration: caused by tools or equipment that vibrate during use.

After workers and supervisors have identified the hazards, they should work together to control and manage the hazards to reduce the risk of workers being injured. Use the Hierarchy of Controls to determine the best way to control the hazard:

  • Can you eliminate or defer a task based on work demands and worksite conditions?
  • Is there a way to substitute a different tool, task, or way of doing something to make the task safer?
  • Can you engineer controls that can remove the hazard, such as:
    • Redesign of workstations/work areas to reduce the need to reach, bend, etc.
    • Use adjustable tables and chairs that allow neutral postures.
    • Use mechanical aids such as carts, dollies, mechanical hoists to eliminate or reduce lifting, carrying, and gripping.
  • Is it possible to implement administrative controls, such as: 
    • Creating safe job procedures for all to follow.  
    • Adjusting work schedules and pace, including muscle recovery time within the workday. 
    • Ensuring equipment is regularly maintained.
  • Do you need personal protective equipment such as knee, elbow, or shoulder pads, gloves to reduce vibration while using tools, supportive footwear, etc.?