MSD – Musculoskeletal Disorders and Participative Ergonomics

The MSD Project was initiated by MSAC as a focus point for industry efforts to improve musculoskeletal disorder prevention and is overseen by the Health Working Party.


MSDs are a serious health concern for the NSW mining and extractives industry. Musculoskeletal injuries account for more than 40 per cent of workers compensation claims in the NSW mining and extractives industry.  Hazards leading to these injuries are included in the list of contemporary priority health issues.

MSDs can occur suddenly as a result of a single forceful action or develop over long periods as symptoms associated with minor tissue injuries are ignored, eventually resulting in a more serious injury.  Many workers performing repetitive tasks or work of a similar nature fall into the longer-term category.

The Mine Safety Advisory Council (MSAC) has endorsed a new guide called the Guide to the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Mining and Extractives Industry which is designed to help sites take planned preventative measures to deal with risks associated with musculoskeletal injuries.

Participative Ergonomics (PE)

The NSW Trade & Investment has developed a participative ergonomics (PE) facilitator guide that empowers stakeholders to confidently facilitate their own PE program and tackle the ongoing issue of musculoskeletal disorders within the NSW mining and extractives sector.

The Don’t Make Yourself Bloody Useless is a holistic PE program encompassing key ergonomics principles and a strong communication strategy to assist in the reduction of musculoskeletal disorders. The aim of the PE program is to use the workers as task experts and equip them with the knowledge and tools to identify hazardous manual tasks and provide solutions to them to reduce hazards.

Participative Ergonomics – Train the work teams facilitator’s guide

Awareness Survey

A study was conducted during 2012 to measure awareness of, and beliefs surrounding the causes and prevention of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) among NSW mining employees. The report into this study was published during October 2013 and is available below.

During the study, some 1316 valid questionnaires were completed across 19 sites and all mining sectors.The main aims of the study were to gain an understanding of what NSW mine workers know about MSDs and to provide baseline data for evaluation of the department’s participatory ergonomics program.


The MSD and PE program of work is moving from a data collection, analysis and consultation phase into implementing an education and assistance phase being delivered by Trade and Investment NSW’s Industry Assistance Unit.

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