OHS Canada Magazine

A message worth repeating: Take action to prevent RSIs

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February 29, 2024
By OHS Canada

Health & Safety

Achieving ideal posture is critical in a proper workstation setup. (Epiximages/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

Feb. 29 is International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness (RSI) Day. And that’s a message that is, well, worth repeating.

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) is reminding workplaces to take action to prevent one of the leading causes of workplace injuries in Canada.

Work that requires the continual repetition of movements, such as lifting, typing, or twisting, can potentially lead to an RSI, it said. These injuries develop slowly over time and can be painful and debilitating, affecting the tendons, muscles, nerves, and joints in the back, shoulder, neck, hands, arms, and other parts of the body. As well as a worker’s ability to perform duties, they can impact mental wellness and quality of life.

According to the Association of Workers’ Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC) National Work Injury, Disease and Fatality Statistics report, there were 10,211 accepted lost-time injuries due to musculoskeletal system and connective tissue diseases and disorders in Canada in 2022 (up 2.5% from 2021).

Many repetitive strain injuries, however, can be prevented by implementing the following measures:

  • Eliminating repetitive work: structure jobs so workers can rotate through different tasks using different muscle groups. Mechanize certain tasks, where possible. Encourage workers to take short, frequent rest breaks.
  • Improving workstation design: create workstations that fit the worker, and allow for standing, sitting, or sitting-standing positions. Provide appropriate tools and equipment to reduce the force needed to complete tasks and to avoid muscle strain or awkward postures or positions.
  • Providing education and training: train workers on the causes, how to best prevent these injuries, and how to recognize early signs and symptoms.

Lisa Beech-Hawley of OPG (top); Ken Brodie of Modern Niagara (middle); and Sue Praight of Sun Life (bottom) took part in a special panel discussion on musculoskeletal health.

From the OHS Canada archives

Here are some stories tackling the issue of RSIs from the OHS Canada archives:


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