The Neuroscience of MSI Injuries – The Link Between Psychosocial Risk Factors and Musculoskeletal Injury

Xanthia Coates Safety Leadership, Workplace Safety and Health

Chronic stress is a lot like a motor that is revved too high for too long, and after a period of time,
it can have a cascading effect on the body.

Statistics provided by the Mental Health Commission of Canada show that one in five Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness each year, with stress and trauma sited as the primary causes. This is equivalent to 500,000 employees unable to work every week. It was further reported that psychological health problems cost the Canadian economy approximately $51 billion per year — $20 billion of which results from work-related causes. In addition, 47% of working Canadians consider their work to be the most stressful part of daily life. Keep in mind that these findings are pre-pandemic.

The stress response is a primitive survival mechanism intended for short-term duration. For example, when the deer outruns the wolf, 15 minutes later it goes aback to grazing. Yet, when humans regularly turn on the stress response (autocratic leadership, production demands, information overload, pandemics, teenagers, divorce, traffic, news) and can’t turn it off, to the body, it’s just like constantly being chased by “the wolf.”
The alarming fact is most workers are living in an environment of stress 70 % of the time.

Stress at work is predictive of workplace incidents in general, since a person living in stress is living in survival mode.


As a result, workers are more likely to become aggressive or reactive and make errors in judgment, such as taking shortcuts. They are also less likely to perceive hazards and as a result experience more injuries and incidents. In addition, stress-induced physiological factors can be linked to musculoskeletal injuries (MSI) and disorders.

Management can have a significant impact on workplace psychosocial risk factors and reduce related MSI in the workplace. When employees feel safe, valued, and rewarded for doing a great job, the results are less injuries and incidents — along with improved morale, reduced turnover and, ultimately, improved financial results for the organization.

Click here for the full article and to learn how proper management can make a significant impact on psychological risk factors, and reduce related MSI in the workplace.


Theo Heineman, CRSP, CHSC, B.Sc.Ag., Founder and CEO of 1Life Workplace Safety Solutions is certified NeuroChangeSolutions consultant and certified trainer in the science and practice of heart coherence by the HeartMath Institute.