Workers Health & Safety Centre

New MOL Document Highlights Employer Obligations Relating to Patient Handling

New MOL Document Highlights Employer Obligations Relating to Patient Handling

Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) are the most prevalent injury among health care workers. And many of these disorders are suffered by workers who lift, transfer and reposition patients.

In a new publication entitled Client Handling and Musculoskeletal Disorders in the Health Care Sector, Ontario’s Ministry of Labour (MOL) cites regulatory requirements related to patient handling. These legal obligations are found in the Occupational Health and Safety Act (the Act) and the Health Care and Residential Facilities Regulation [Reg. 67/93].

The most significant of these obligations to protect health care workers from the hazards responsible for the development of MSDs rest with employers. Examples include:  

  • developing measures and safe work procedures,
  • developing and providing training to workers and supervisors, and
  • consulting with, and considering the recommendations of, joint health and safety committees or worker representatives.

With respect to training, the MOL states “Training is required for all workers who perform lifts, transfers and repositions, including training for supervisors who need to ensure workers are adhering to the measures and procedures.” They also mention “When training for staff on measures and procedures for client handling is being developed, it is a good practice to consider two key components for the training:

  • a classroom training session for workers on the written measures and procedures, and
  • a practical hands on training component in which workers can practice the measures and procedures and receive feedback on whether they are being completed correctly.

For our part, the WHSC offers a three-hour classroom-based Patient Handling training program designed to help workplace parties understand the factors responsible for the development of MSDs, also commonly referred to as repetitive strain injuries (RSIs). Participants also learn more about the compliance obligations required by the Act and the Health Care Regulations. Included with this training are resources such as a sample patient handling policy and generic patient lifting assessment forms that can be customized to the workplace.

Want to read the Ontario Ministry of Labour Client Handling/MSD resource?

Want to know more about the WHSC Patient Handling training or how the WHSC can help with all of your occupational health and safety training needs? Visit or call Toll Free 1-888-869-7950 and ask to speak to a Training Services representative.