Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day

On February 28th, 2023, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) recognizes Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day. This is a day to bring awareness to one of the lesser-discussed workplace hazards that cause repetitive strain injuries and reflect on how to prevent them.  

As society has evolved, so too have our work and our workplaces. This brings forward a new evolution in workplace injuries and a new understanding of them as well. A repetitive strain injury is a form of musculoskeletal disorder (MSD), an umbrella term for an injury brought on when your workload becomes greater than your tissue tolerance. When we picture a workplace injury, we often imagine an acute injury, pain we feel right away from activities such as trying to lift something too heavy, with bad posture and pulling a muscle in their back. We often fail to imagine an injury that occurs over a longer timeline, such as typing at their computer and using their mouse  for weeks and eventually sustaining a shoulder and wrist injury from the repetitive movement and posture.  

There are many signs that one may be suffering from a repetitive strain injury: 

  • Pain (this is the main indicator)

  • Joint stiffness

  • Muscle soreness/ tightness

  • Numbness

  • Pins and needles sensations

MSDs are a leading cause of lost-time injuries in Canada, so to keep workers healthy, safe, and able to perform their jobs, it is important everyone from front-line workers to management do what they can to prevent repetitive strain injuries. This can be done using many different approaches. 

Strategy changes: Address the internal systems, policies, and training – or lack of, that have led to these issues, for example, mandatory breaks to leave the workstation and go for a walk. 

Equipment changes: Changing the physical tools used to perform a task, such as an ergonomic screwdriver or mouse, or even automating the repetitive aspects of the job, such as using an electric life to move heavy loads.  

Workplace changes: Including factors such as heat, noise, and vibration experienced while performing tasks. Something as simple as heat causing sweaty hands, therefore needing to grip a tool tighter, may eventually cause a repetitive strain injury. Ensuring the workplace environment is appropriate for the work being done can help reduce those risks. 

Administrative changes: Changing the way we interact with the work. If you have a part of your job that is repetitive and cannot change, including job rotation could allow workers adequate rest and recovery to avoid the breaking down of tissue tolerance and, therefore, avoid injury.  

Repetitive strain injuries are very common for our members in the service and hospitality industries. With certified ergonomists on staff and access to an ergonomics course that will be offered soon, Service Hospitality is available to help address any concerns you may have about repetitive strain injuries. Reach out to us at any time! 

We look forward to hearing from our members and hope you will have a conversation about repetitive strain injuries in the workplace on February 28th! 

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