Ask the HR Department: What can I do to help my staff prevent repetitive strain injuries at work?


By HR and health & safety consultancy Peninsula Canada

Employees may be at risk of developing repetitive strain injuries (RSI) when performing work tasks that are ongoing or involve uncomfortable postures for a prolonged period of time. Employers need to do their part and ensure they create a safe workplace for all staff to avoid any injuries. Here are RSI signs employers need to look out for and tips on how to keep staff protected.

What are repetitive strain injuries and what are some of the symptoms? RSI is an umbrella term used to describe painful disorders that affect muscles, nerves, tendons, and joints anywhere in the body such as the neck, back, and arms. Symptoms can be minor or progress into chronic disorders which sometimes cannot be reversed or fixed.

Educate and train staff. Since RSIs typically develop slowly, it’s important to educate and train staff on the causes, how to recognize early signs and symptoms of RSIs, and how best to prevent them. That way employees can take it upon themselves to be aware and do their part in protecting themselves.

Provide staff with the right ergonomic tools. Depending on the nature of the job, employers can make office adjustments to help limit RSIs. It’s not practical to completely eliminate the repetitive aspect of a job. However, providing staff with the right ergonomic tools that are adjusted to fit for the worker can greatly help.

Allow staff to take breaks. Staff who sit at their desks all day should be encouraged to take short breaks. They can either go on a quick walk or just stand up and stretch: this allows the muscles to get some rest.

Peninsula is an HR and Health and Safety consulting firm serving over 80,000 small businesses worldwide, including dealers in home improvement. Clients are supported with ongoing updates to their workplace documentation and policies as legislation changes. Additionally, clients benefit from 24/7 employer HR advice and are protected by legal insurance.