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Understanding Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)—Because Work Shouldn’t Be a Pain

By Avetta Marketing
February 25, 2021
3 minutes
Understanding Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

February 28th is International Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Awareness Day, which is dedicated to the prevention of RSI. RSI is also known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), and is an umbrella term used to describe a family of painful disorders affecting tendons, muscles, nerves and joints in the neck, upper and lower back, chest, shoulders, arms, and hands. Disorders related to RSI can be carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, rotator cuff tendonitis, and tennis elbow. 

Who is at Risk? 

RSIs are common and can happen to workers from all types of industries. Activities such as using a computer, grasping or gripping tools, working on an assembly line, or operating machinery can cause RSIs. What makes many of these ordinary activities harmful is the continual reputation of the movements. Other factors like stress, lack of breaks, or a fast pace of work can also influence RSIs.  

What are the signs? 

There are several signs that you may be suffering from an RSI: 

  • pain, ranging from mild to severe (most common) 

  • tenderness 

  • swelling and redness  

  • stiffness 

  • tingling or numbness 

  • throbbing 

  • weakness 

  • sensitivity to cold or heat 

  • skin color changes  

  • decreased sweating of the hands  

Symptoms  may begin gradually and then become constant and more intense. Even with treatment, initial symptoms may limit a workers’ ability to perform usual activities. 

Preventing Workplace RSIs 

Learning to prevent onsite incidents not only protects your workers but can also greatly help reduce liabilities within your supply chain. RSIs are the most frequent type of lost-time injury and the single largest source of lost-time cost, specifically in Canada. 

Options to preventing RSI include: 

  1. Focus on eliminating repetitive work through job design which may involve mechanizing certain tasks.  

  1. Structure jobs so that workers can rotate between different tasks, using different muscles groups. 

  1. Create a well-designed workstation that is adjusted to fit the worker and allows standing, sitting, or sitting-standing positions.  

  1. Provide workers with appropriate, carefully maintained tools and equipment to reduce the force needed to complete tasks and prevent muscle strain, and avoid awkward positions. 

  1. Train workers to understand what causes these injuries, how best to prevent them, and how to recognize the early signs and symptoms of RSI.  

  1. Educate workers on how to adjust workstations to fit their tasks and individual needs.  

  1. Encourage workers to take short, frequent rest breaks. 

Employers have a responsibility to protect workers, including third party suppliers that they utilize. At Avetta, clients and suppliers who utilize the Avetta Connect™ Platform reduce the number of safety incidents by as much as 55% compared to industry averages.  

To learn more about improving safety in your supply chain visit our website, call 844-633-3801, or email [email protected]

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