What is RSI Awareness Day?
Many years ago, a few individual workers - all knowing firsthand the debilitating effects Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) or Musculoskeletal Disorders (MSD) can have on work and life - took it upon themselves to ignite a movement to raise awareness of these injuries, their causes and solutions. This then resulted in International RSI Awareness Day, held annually the last day of February - the only non-repetitive day on the calendar. On this day, workplaces and communities hold events to bring awareness to this important workplace issue.
RSI or MSD – What Are They?
These are umbrella terms used to describe a collection of injuries that affect the muscles, nerves, ligaments, blood vessels and tendons (soft tissue). Tendinitis, tenosynovitis, muscle strain, low-back injury and carpal tunnel syndrome are some common examples. Common symptoms include aches, pains, burning, tingling, swelling and loss of joint movement and strength in the affected area(s).
These symptoms can progress into chronic and crippling disorders which, oftentimes, not even physiotherapy or surgery can correct.
Causes of RSI or MSD
A variety of factors can play a role in the development of RSI or MSD:
- Insufficient recovery time
- Forceful movements
- Awkward or fixed postures
- Cold temperatures
- Contact stress
- Pace of work
- Psychosocial stress
Why Is Awareness and Prevention Important?
Occupational injuries to muscles, nerves and tendons (soft tissue) may not be life-ending, but they can certainly be life-altering. They can change everything, robbing workers of their mobility and dignity.
Year after year work-related repetitive strain injuries (RSI), also commonly known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSD), account for more than 30 percent of lost-time injuries (LTI) allowed by Ontario’s Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) — the single largest class of compensation claims. Many more cases of RSI, however, are never reported.
According to Statistics Canada, 2.3 million Canadian adults annually experience a MSD serious enough to limit their normal activities; and the majority of these injuries are caused by work-related activity. Beyond the social, emotional and economic costs to affected individuals are the economic costs to us all. Musculoskeletal diseases are estimated to cost the Canadian economy upwards of $22 billion each year, with injuries costing an additional $15 billion annually. Much of this is paid, not by employers who operate unsafe workplaces, but by Canadian taxpayers through the health care system and income assistance to workers with these injuries and their families.
These statistics and the painful experiences behind them demand solutions.
The majority of RSI or MSD are preventable. Some effective steps to take include:
- Early reporting of symptoms and hazards to supervisors and joint health and safety committee (JHSC) members.
- Suggestions to improve working conditions to supervisors and JHSC members; especially re-designing the wokplace to reduce risk factors to RSI/MSD
- Implementation of ergonomic prevention solutions
- Worker involvement in suggestions and implementation
- Timely reporting to the WSIB of work-related MSD
- Quality training to address these issues
PSHSA Training and Resources
The following are just a few of the many resources available to focus on for RSI Awareness Day and every day. PSHSA also offer ergonomics training, audits and assessments to help you identify risk factors within your organization. Learn more about how a Health & Safety consultant can help you determine the level of risk present in a job and provide suggestions to minimize the risk of injury.
MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario
eOfficeErgo: Ergonomics e-Learning for Office Workers
Participatory Ergonomics – Fast Fact
How Does My Back Work – Fast Fact
Office Ergonomics: How to Conduct an Assessment
Preventing MSD in the Lab Environment
Ergonomics in the workplace | Ontario Government
WSIB By the Numbers: 2020 Statistical Report
OHCOW Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Day
Follow our RSI Awareness Day updates at #RSIDay and find us on Twitter @PSHSAca