Centre links MSD researchers from many disciplines

The number of researchers studying the prevention of work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) is limited.

This is why one goal of the Centre of Research Expertise for the Prevention of Musculoskeletal Disorders (CRE-MSD)* is to strengthen collaborations in this field. IWH scientists are involved with several projects co-ordinated through the centre.

CRE-MSD is based at the University of Waterloo, but it is essentially a virtual organization with a linked network of researchers from different universities and organizations, says Dr. Dee Kramer, Manager of Knowledge Transfer and Exchange at the centre. It funds and supports research on MSDs, with a focus on the prevention of work-related injuries.

The centre brings together researchers from a wide variety of disciplines, including ergonomists, clinicians, biomechanists and social scientists, says Dr. Phil Bigelow, an Institute Scientist who also sits on the centre’s research committee.

In some areas, we don’t have those skills at the Institute, but we can access this expertise through the teams with whom we collaborate. This leveraging has been beneficial.

The centre takes a broad perspective on research, and projects are always done in collaboration with community-based organizations, says Kramer. This multi-faceted perspective allows for a more in-depth response to stakeholder needs, and increases the probability that any solution that is found will be more applicable, relevant and effective, she explains. Another key goal of CRE-MSD is to mentor and encourage new researchers in the field, says Kramer.

Over the next few years, researchers from both organizations will be involved in several projects. Some of these include:

  • A research study on participatory ergonomics programs, which is beingconducted with the Electrical & Utilities Safety Association.
  • A new “diffusion of innovation” study, which will explore ergonomic interventions in the construction sector.
  • A partnership with the Transportation Health and Safety Association of Ontario, unions and transportation companies, to develop best practices in the prevention of MSDs. This involves organizing an international conference, creating ergonomic change teams, a literature review of international regulations and guidelines, and a workshop with companies to discuss the feasibility and usability of proposed solutions.

CRE-MSD is funded by the Workplace Safety & Insurance Board’s Research Advisory Council.

*CRE-MSD was formerly known as CRE-PREMUS. For more information, visit http://cre-msd.uwaterloo.ca

Source: At Work, Issue 46, Fall 2006: Institute for Work & Health, Toronto