Effective workplace interventions to prevent upper extremity disorders: a systematic review update

Reasons for the study

Upper extremity musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) include painful conditions and injuries of the muscles, tendons, joints and nerves that affect the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands. In Canada, upper extremity MSDs and low-back pain are the leading causes of disabling work-related injuries. ‚ÄčThis systematic review updated a 2008 review of the role of occupational health and safety interventions in the prevention of upper extremity MSDs.


The systematic review was completed in 2016. The team found strong evidence that workplace-based resistance training programs can help prevent and manage upper extremity MSDs.

Moderate evidence was found that stretching exercise programs, workstation forearm supports and vibration feedback on mouse use can help prevent and manage upper extremity MSDs and symptoms. The team also found moderate evidence that electromagnetic (EMG) biofeedback, job stress management and office workstation adjustments on their own (i.e. with minimal worker involvement) have no effect on upper extremity MSDs.

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Project status

Completed 2016

Research team

  • Dwayne Van Eerd, Institute for Work & Health (PI)
  • Claire Munhall, Institute for Work & Health
  • Emma Irvin, Institute for Work & Health
  • Dave Rempel, University of California-San Francisco
  • Shelley Brewer, CB&I Inc.
  • Allard van der Beek, VU University Medical Center
  • Jack Dennerlein, Northeastern University
  • Jessica Tullar, University of Texas
  • Kathryn Skivington, Institute for Work & Health
  • Clint Pinion, CB&I Inc.
  • Ben Amick, Institute for Work & Health

Funded by

Ontario Ministry of Labour