Chair – MaryAnn MacKinnon
Member – Harpinder Sandhu
Preventing RSI (February 28th)
Working at a computer, your job likely requires you to perform the same task or movement over and over again-which could put you at risk of developing a repetitive strain injury (RSI).
RSI is a general term used to describe a variety of painful injuries that effect tendons, tendon sheaths, muscles, nerves, joints and other soft tissues. They cause persistent or recurring pain most commonly in the neck, shoulders, forearms, hands, wrists elbows and lower limbs.
Pain is the most common symptom associated with RSI. Symptoms may vary but often include joint stiffness, muscle tightness, redness, and swelling of the affected area. Some may also experience sensations of ‘pins and needles’, and numbness. The symptoms of RSI usually develop gradually and the injury may progress in stages ranging from mild to severe, eventually causing longer periods of pain. Without treatment symptoms can become constant and affect your ability to perform your job or even light duties.
Ordinary movements that we naturally make every day are not particularly harmful in the activities of our daily lives. What does make them hazardous in work situations though is the continual repeating of the movements and there are other work factors that may contribute to injuries, such as awkward postures and fixed body positions, excessive force concentrated on small parts of the body such as the hand or wrist and fast pace of work with insufficient breaks or recovery time.
As with any hazards, RSI are best eliminated at the source which is the repetition of the tasks performed. Jobs should be structured so that workers can rotate between various tasks where they do something different, using different muscle groups. When it’s not practical to eliminate the repetitiveness of the job a well designed workstation that is adjusted to the worker can help. Workstations should be fully adjustable and enable a worker to work in standing or sitting standing positions. Workers need to know how to adjust workstations to fit their tasks and individual needs. Besides providing training employers should encourage employees to take short frequent rest breaks to allow their muscles to relax.