February 15, 2010
February 28, 2010 is the 11th International RSI Awareness Day - Help prevent repetitive strain injuries

February 28, 2010 will mark the 11th International RSI Awareness Day - a day set aside each year to focus attention on repetitive
strain injuries.  Held on the last day of February - the only "non-repetitive" day on the calendar, RSI Awareness Day is observed on
February 29th in non-leap years.  

On this day, workers, union representatives, 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.

What are RSIs?
Repetitive strain injuries, also known as work-related musculoskeletal disorders (WMSDs), 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.  
WMSDs 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.

Cause
WMSDs are associated with work patterns that include:

  • fixed or constrained body positions
  • continual repetition of movements
  • force concentrated on small parts of the body, such as the hand or wrist
  • a pace of work that does not allow sufficient recovery between movements

Heat, cold and vibration also contribute to the development of WMSD.  Generally, WMSDs commonly occur as a result of a
combination of these factors.

Prevention
A fundamental principle of occupational health and safety is that hazards are best eliminated at the source.  In the case of WMSDs,
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.

Promoting Awareness
This year many events will call for an ergonomic regulation similar to that passed in British Columbia.  Since passing ergonomics
legislation in 1998, B.C. has seen a 19 per cent drop in RSIs and a 40 per cent reduction in money spent in RSI lost time claims. BC’s
experience demonstrates that enforced legislation works.

Click here to read the communique issued by CAW President Ken Lewenza, which also contains a 'Myths' sheet on RSIs. [PDF]

Click on the next link to access the
council4000.com Health & Safety section - then look to the 'Physical Hazards' area in the
Health, Safety and Environmental Fact Sheets column and click the on the following links and download these fact sheets:   

'Back'  -  'Hands/Wrists/Arms'  -  'Shoulders'  -  'Working On Your Feet'