Health and safety snapshot of Ontario printing, platemaking and bindery workers

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Musculoskeletal disorders top the list of workplace injuries

Health and safety snapshot of Ontario printing, platemaking and bindery workers – information sheet


Worker lifting stack of paper at printing pressOf the almost 30,000 Ontarians who work full-time in printing, platemaking, and bookbinding, the majority of lost-time injuries – injuries severe enough to cause a worker to lose time from work – are from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), according to 2013 injury statistics from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB).

When you imagine the variety of complex machinery and volume of diverse projects – from books and magazines to packaging and display stands, this group routinely performs work that includes repetitive motion, bending, climbing, reaching, twisting, lifting, pulling, pushing, and carrying or turning objects. An emphasis on prevention of strains and sprains, and mobile lifting equipment can help prevent 51 per cent of all workplace injuries for this group of workers.

The second most common injury for these workers is being struck by an object or being caught in equipment. About 32 per cent of injuries occur when the worker is struck by a an object – whether falling, flying, swinging, or rolling. The worker may have a hand, finger, or arm slammed in a swinging door or gate, or pinched by an exposed moving part of machinery.

For as long as printing presses and book binding machinery have been around, there has been a danger of injury. Safe use of machinery, as well as a ‘lock-out/tag-out’ program for conducting maintenance or removing a jam, are critical.

Infographic of Injury and Illness Trends for Ontario printing workers

Slips, trips, and falls in the workplace are the third most common injury for these industrial workers, with the majority of falls occuring at the same level, either on a floor, walkway, or parking lot. Daily exposure to noisy machinery has also resulted in 122 WSIB claims for noise-induced hearing loss. The importance of using personal protective equipment such as earplugs and safety glasses is paramount.

Workplace Safety North (WSN) field staff are available to conduct dosimeter surveys of work areas to identify issues with noise levels compared to legislative standards and provide recommendations. They also conduct on-site audits to identify machine guarding, lockout and other machine hazards, and share recommendations with regards to specific slip and fall hazards identified in the workplace. WSN ergonomists can provide site-specific recommendations relating to the prevention of MSDs. 

Although the injury rate for this group of workers has improved 3.6 per cent over the previous year, health and safety in printing, platemaking and bindery workplaces requires an ongoing awareness of the hazards.


New Joint Health and Safety Committee certification training programs - Training updated specifically for printing and converting, pulp and paper sectors

Pulp and paper health and safety research update - Latest WSN-supported research to help prevent musculoskeletal disorders

What to expect for machine guarding safety inspection blitz - New ‘Safe Use of Machinery’ training


A Collection of MSD Prevention Tools includes tips, surveys, assessments, physical demands analysis, sample policy, more. 

Paper, Printing and Converting Sector Injury and Illness statistics - WSIB data on injury rates, injury patterns, and occupational disease claims