RSIs – What are They
Repetitive strain injuries, or RSIs, refer to injuries affecting tendons, tendon sheaths, muscles, ligaments, nerves, joints, and other soft issues that can occur across the entire body. RSIs can go by a variety of names – Sprains and strains, musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) and cumulative trauma disorders (CTDs); or be more specific to the injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, golfer’s or tennis elbow, trigger finger, tendonitis, or bursitis.
Sprains and strains are the most common nature of injury listed in claims filed with the Workers Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). From 2013 – 2022, there were 243,487 allowed claims for sprains and strains filed, with a total compensation of over $1.75 billion awarded (Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, 2022).
Who’s At Risk?
RSIs don’t discriminate – they can affect workers of all ages across all industries! From office-based and hospital industries to manufacturing, mining, construction, and everything in between, RSIs are present.
How Do They Occur?
RSIs are driven by 3 main risk factors:
- Awkward and/or Static Postures: Awkward postures occur as you move a body part toward it’s end range of motion (i.e. bending over to pick up a box from the floor, or working above shoulder height), while static postures occur as you hold a position for a period of time. Both can overload body tissues. The more awkward the posture, or the longer a posture is held, the greater the risk of injury.
- Force: Force is the amount of effort required to move or use objects, tools or your own body. The greater the amount of effort required to complete a task, the greater the risk of injury.
- Frequency: Frequency is the number of times a task is performed in a period of time. Completing the same task (or similar tasks) repeatedly causes the same tissues to be used without adequate recovery time. The more frequently a task is completed, the greater the risk of injury.
Other factors can contribute to RSIs, including temperature, vibration, contact stress, and psychosocial factors.
Symptoms of RSIs can vary, as they can affect different tissues and different regions of the body. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Aches, pain, or discomfort
- Tiredness of the affected area
- Joint stiffness
- Muscle tightness
- Inflammation or swelling
- Redness, bruising or other changes in skin colour
- Numbness or tingling sensations
How Can ECOH Help?
ECOH’s Occupational Health and Safety Group has expertise in ergonomics. As the science of fitting jobs or tasks to the physical and cognitive capabilities of the worker, we can support your goals of reducing work-related RSIs by:
- Assisting in the development, review, and implementation of ergonomics-related health and safety policies, programs, and procedures
- Conducting surveys to address employee concerns or propose options to improve workplace ergonomics
Contact ECOH today to talk about ergonomics in your workplace.