Workers Health & Safety Centre

RSI Awareness Day February 29. Stop the pain. Start with prevention.

Every year some two million Canadians suffer a musculoskeletal disorder serious enough to limit normal activities. But did you know the majority of these injuries are work-related?

For affected workers and their families, the pain is real and it needs to stop. For more than twenty years workers, their representatives and their allies have built a movement to focus on these injuries, their prevention, and the need for fair compensation. They will join with others in countries around the world on February 29 to mark International RSI Awareness Day.

Early detection to prevent chronic pain

Repetitive strain injuries, also known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), continue to account for about 40 per cent of all lost-time injuries approved by Ontario’s Workplace Safety & Insurance Board. Many injuries are not reported and many claims are denied. While often invisible to others, RSIs and MSDs can damage muscles, nerves and tendons causing pain and permanent disability. These injuries can affect employers too through rising injury compensation costs and lost productivity.

Early awareness of these injuries is crucial. RSIs and MSDs can be slow to develop. Workers experiencing related symptoms like pain, swelling, tenderness and weakness may not connect this to the work they do every day. A host of well-established work factors can play a role in injury development including: repetition, insufficient recovery time, forceful movements, heavy loads, awkward or fixed postures, cold temperatures, contact stress, excessive pace of work, psychosocial stress, and vibration.

Attention to prevention. It's the law.

Fortunately, most workplace hazards that give rise to MSDs can be identified and eliminated.

Under Ontario’s Occupational Health & Safety Act and regulations, employers have a general duty to identify, assess and control or eliminate exposure to all hazards, including those which can contribute to the development of RSIs and MSDs.

Employers must also provide information, instruction and training—everything from workstation setup and safe lifting procedures to measures for recognizing and reporting the early signs of MSDs. While Ontario does not have a specific Ergonomics regulation, an updated MSD Prevention Guideline for Ontario provides resources in support of many of these efforts.

Start today. WHSC can help.

Workers Health & Safety Centre (WHSC) believes effective prevention measures starts with quality training to recognize the many work factors that contribute to MSDs.

All WHSC ergonomics programs focus on the knowledge and tools needed to help identify the working conditions and hazards responsible for musculoskeletal pain and MSDs. What’s more, this training offers essential insight into prevention solutions. As such, this training is critical to joint health and safety committee members and representatives, workers, employers and supervisors, all of whom have important legal obligations to identify, assess and recommend or implement preventive solutions.

Visit our dedicated web page to learn more about RSI Awareness Day.

WHSC also offers:
Check out other resources, including a free RSI Day+ Webinar hosted by Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers.
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