Hamilton, ON (February 22, 2011) – Every year, the last day of February is reserved for International Strain Injury (RSI) Awareness Day. Over the past decade on this day, workers, health and safety professionals, health care practitioners and others take the opportunity to help raise awareness about RSIs and the need for action aimed at prevention, rehabilitation and compensation.
Repetitive strain injuries, also known as work-related musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), is an umbrella term 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. These disorders can be caused by work activities that are frequent and repetitive, or activities with awkward postures. MSDs are a serious occupational health concern across the world and are recognized as leading causes of significant human suffering, loss of productivity and economic burdens on society.
A fundamental principle of occupational health and safety is that hazards are best eliminated at the source. In the case of MSDs, the prime source of hazard is the repetitiveness of work. Prevention must aim at eliminating the repetitiveness of the work by proper job design. Where this is not possible, preventive strategies such as good workplace layout, tool and equipment design, and proper work practices should be considered. It is important to recognize these disorders early because medical treatments become less effective the longer these injuries go on.
Preventive and control measures, in order to be truly effective, require significant involvement on the part of the workers, their representatives, and management to improve occupational health and safety.
For a number of free resources for the prevention of MSDs, including fact sheets, podcasts, webinars and e-courses, visit the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety website.