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How to Avoid Repetitive Strain Injury

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is an injury of the musculoskeletal and nervous system that is caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations or sustained or awkward positions. Over time, RSI can create a number of related problems ranging from minor, constant aches and discomfort, to permanent disablements. If you find yourself performing repetitive motions at your place of work, contact your supervisor and arrange for workplace safety and WHMIS training. The ability to recognize your movements as potentially harmful is the first step to rectifying the hazardous behaviour and rehabilitating the strain injury.

Can Your Workplace Contribute to RSI?

Repetitive strain injury can happen in any workplace, be it a factory setting or office space. In fact, the increased use of computers has contributed immensely to the number of reported workplace RSI cases. If you use a computer frequently it is in your best interest to seek proper health and WHMIS training to ensure that your workstation is designed to alleviate muscle strain and reduce repetitive motions. RSI is much easier to prevent than it is to cure, so don’t wait to have an ergonomic assessment performed on your workspace. It could save you a lifetime of aching muscles.

Actions That Can Cause RSI

Whether you’re on the job site or at the office, you should take the following WHMIS training precautions when performing repetitive tasks:

  • Loosen your grip: Whether you’re holding a hammer or a computer mouse, remember to grip it lightly. Loosening your hold on an object will help release tension and relax muscles.
  • Watch your posture: Humans have a natural tendency to hunch forward when working in a seated position. If you’re working in front of a computer, remember to place your monitor at least an arm’s length away from your eyes. Tilt the screen slightly upwards as well to encourage better neck positioning.
  • Take a break: While it’s often impossible to avoid repetitive motions at work, you can reduce the effects of repeated stress by taking frequent breaks. If you can, try and take a short breather every half hour. If you can, go for a walk during your break or do a few stretches. This will help release tension in overused muscles.
  • Stay warm: Muscles and tendons are more susceptible to injury when they are cold. For example, if your mouse hand tingles or is colder than your other hand, stop and adjust your workspace. You’re likely positioned in an awkward way, causing the nerves in the wrist of your mouse hand to be pinched.
  • Pay attention to pain: Pain, discomfort and fatigue are all signs of repetitive strain injury. If you begin to feel discomfort when working, stop and assess your workspace and body positioning.

Repetitive strain injury can cause serious problems if left untreated. Various types of injuries, including Carpal tunnel syndrome, Bursitis, and Rotator cuff syndrome can be caused by RSI, so always remember to play close attention to what your body is feeling. For more information on RSI and the health issues associated with repetitive body movement, contact your health and safety officer.