Prevention tips

If you think you might be at risk of – or have – an RSI, you’re not alone.

Under health and safety legislation, the employer has specific responsibilities, including:

  • Ensuring equipment is appropriate and in good condition
  • Provide information, instruction and supervision
  • As part of hazard assessment:
    • Conducting regular inspections
    • Communicating hazards
    • Taking every precaution reasonable to prevent hazards:  This can strain include ensuring that the work or workstation does not place undue force, posture, or repetitive strain

Precautions employers can implement include, but are not limited to:

  • Modifying the work station to reduce poor posture and repetitive strain
  • Changing the way work is done. For example, to avoid repetition, changing duties or providing short breaks.
  • Modifying equipment. For example, providing insulation for hammers to reduce vibration.
  • Providing customized equipment. This may include changes to desks, chairs and office set-ups.

Remember, the costs for ergonomic assessment and corresponding equipment are to be borne by the employer, NOT the employee.

Workers can also stretch throughout the day (Office ergonomics – Stretching) and take their breaks.

It is also that essential health and safety committees, where they are in place, receive regular reporting of repetitive strain injuries so that hazards may be identified and assessed and appropriate controls put in place.

If you don’t have a health and safety committee, speak to your union representative.

As outlined by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, treatment can include:

  • Restriction of movement
  • Application of heat or cold
  • Exercise
  • Medication and surgery

Should you be subject to an RSI:

  1. Don’t delay: Get help right away.
  2. Report the injury: Let your supervisor or manager know.
  3. Document the injury: This will be helpful should you file a claim for workers’ compensation.
  4. Follow up: Ensure that hazards – be it your workstation or “way of doing the job” or something else – are identified and addressed.

If you are unsure how to proceed, reach out to your union representative for assistance.