Repetitive Strain Injuries | EcoOnline US
Health & Safety Glossary

Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI)


What are Repetitive Strain Injuries?

Repetitive strain injuries (RSI), also known as repetitive stress injuries, are injuries that occur due to the gradual decline of muscle tissue, tendons, and the nerves caused by performing repeated strain. 

They are quite common amongst people who perform similar tasks daily, such as using a computer mouse, typing, picking up items, or general forms of manual labor. Repetitive strain injuries can affect a person’s ability to work properly, since they usually affect:

  • Fingers 
  • Wrists
  • Arms
  • Knees
  • Shoulders
  • Elbows

Who Can Get a Repetitive Strain Injury?

As the name suggests, workers who perform the same tasks over and over again are generally at an elevated risk of sustaining such injuries. Employees who perform physically demanding jobs sustain RSIs quite frequently. 

Other employees who work sedentary jobs are also at a risk, since they sit behind a desk and work on a computer most of the time. 

Common Causes of Repetitive Strain Injuries

These injuries can usually be caused by:

  • Adopting a poor posture at work, either while sitting or working
  • Athletes who play sports that require repetitive movements, such as tennis 
  • Performing repetitive activities like typing, working with a mouse, designing, or others
  • The consistent use of power tools 
  • Age-related injuries 

What Conditions Can Repetitive Strain Injuries Lead to?

Repetitive strain injuries can lead to a myriad of different conditions, including, but not limited to:

  • Trigger finger
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Tendonitis 
  • Back strain 
  • Shin splints
  • Sprains in different joints
  • Tennis elbow

How to Manage Repetitive Strain Injuries

There are several things that employees can do to manage repetitive strain injuries.

Regular Activity

A common way to manage repetitive strain injuries is to maintain consistent, varied activity. For instance, workers who sit behind a desk for eight hours a day can take a break after every hour. 

Keeping active is a simple and highly effective way to manage RSIs. 

Use Anti-Inflammatory Painkillers

Another effective way to manage RSIs is to use anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen. Gels are also available which can help relieve the pain. Using a hot or cold pack can also make a major difference.

How to Reduce the Risk of Repetitive Stress Injuries

There are several different ways to reduce the risks of repetitive stress injuries. 

Adjust Your Workstation for Good Posture

This one’s fairly obvious: employees are required to adjust their workstation to ensure that they are not sitting in a position which may hurt their posture.

Making sure that you sit in a comfortable position is important and can reduce stress on the body. For instance, employees should sit in a chair with adequate lumbar support. 

Their feet should also rest flat on the ground, while their hands and forearms must align with the desk. It’s important that the employees don’t have to strain their necks too much to look at the screen.

Regular Breaks

Employees who perform manual labor, such as workers on a construction site, must be given regular breaks to ensure that they don’t exert too much. Regular breaks can play an important role in reducing the risk of injury. 

During a break, employees can just walk around or do some stretches, which improves blood circulation and reduce strain on the joints and muscles. 

Proper Tools and Safety Equipment

Employees must also be provided proper tools and safety equipment that they may need to do their job more effectively. For instance, lifting harnesses can be used by employees to reduce the strain on their knees and back when moving heavy items. 

Create an Education Program

Employers may want to consider establishing an education program so that all employees are aware of the risks posed by repetitive stress injuries. 

These injuries don’t occur immediately; they usually start by showing some basic symptoms, like numbness or pain in the fingers or certain parts of the body. 

Failure to address the problem, such as by seeking physiotherapy, could eventually cause a repetitive stress injury.

Analyzing Risk Factors in the Workplace

Companies should also conduct a thorough analysis of all risk factors found in the environment and determine different causes of RSIs. An ergonomics study, for instance, can give employers a better understanding of the various risks that exist in the work environment. 

Use EcoOnline to Reduce the Risk of Repetitive Stress Injuries 

EcoOnline’s Health & Safety Software makes it easy for companies to analyze different risks and hazards in the workplace and create a plan for effectively dealing with them. 

It also has an incident reporting software and an observation tool that helps companies better understand the various risk factors that exist in the environment, and what they can do about them.