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Combating repetitive stress injuries

Employers here in California, and across the nation know full well the toll that repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) can have on a bottom line. They also know that RSIs not only affect productivity, but can also result in widespread absenteeism and increased workers' compensation defense costs.

Consequently, it's important for employers in any and all industries to take the necessary step to prevent RSIs among their workforce.

What is an RSI?

A publication from the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) defines an RSI as follows:

"[R]epetitive stress injuries, comprise more than one hundred different types of job-induced injuries and illnesses resulting from wear and tear on the body. RSIs ... can result any time there is a mismatch between the physical requirements of the job and the physical capacity of the human body. Specific risk factors that can cause RSIs include repetitive motion, force, awkward posture, heavy lifting, or a combination of these factors."

What is the best way to prevent RSIs?

According to health experts, the best way to prevent the onset of RSIs is early detection. However, the problem is that many of the early warning signs of RSIs go undetected by employees.

For example, an employee may routinely deal with a sore knee after work. However, due to the large time interval that has elapsed since they left work, the employee may not make the connection between their sore knee and their job until the damage has already been done.

In light of this fact, experts advise employers to implement certain ergonomic measures designed to combat the onset of RSIs.

What are some of these ergonomic measures to combat RSIs?

While a complete listing and explanation of ergonomic measures to help fight RSIs is clearly beyond the scope of a single blog post, here are a few simple steps recommended by health experts.

  • Provide employees with regularly scheduled breaks
  • Provide employees with ergonomically friendly furniture, including computer station supplies (keyboards, monitors, footrests, etc.
  • Design job duties to avoid or minimize repetitive motions
  • Provide the necessary mechanical aides (carts, dollies, lifting devices, etc.)
  • Provide proper training on ergonomics and be responsive to employee complaints of pain/discomfort

To be continued ...

Stay tuned for further developments from our workers' compensation defense blog ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal or medical advice.

Sources:

Business Management Daily, "Repetitive Stress Injuries: FAQs" Jan. 3, 2012

OSHA, "Preventing Repetitive Stress Injuries" Dec. 1996

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