“Alphabet soup” injuries are among the fastest-growing types of injuries causing Workers’ Compensation claims. There’s the CTS or carpal tunnel syndrome. And there’s CTD or cumulative trauma disorder. But the king of them all is RMI or repetitive motion injury. It is also called RSI or repetitive stress injury.
RMI, RSI, CTS, CTD. Whatever you call these injuries, they are muscular or skeletal injuries to the hand, wrist and other areas that get the brunt of repetitive motion.
The largest number of RSIs happen to employees who spend much of their work days using computer keyboards, doing writing and data entry.
What can you do to reduce the chances of repetitive stress injuries to your employees? Some suggestions:
- Adjust or redesign your workstations, tables and desks, or get new ones that fit each employee’s own comfort needs.
- Encourage (even require) RSI-prone employees to take frequent, short breaks from their repetitive work.
- Encourage these employees to exercise periodically during the work period, stand up, stretch arms, exercise wrists, flex fingers, move their heads back and forth and from left to right. (Consult with a qualified health professional for recommended exercises.)
- Replace plain chairs with chairs that have lower-back supports, adjustable seats and armrests.
- Position computer keyboards low enough so the operator’s hands are almost perfectly straight and are resting on the keyboard.
- Train all RSI-prone employees to stand, sit and perform their job movements correctly.
Your solutions do not always have to be expensive. For example, in one workplace two employees developed hand and wrist problems from working at computer keyboards on the desktop publishing set-up. One employee developed a sore spot on the heel of the right hand. And one employee developed tendonitis in the index finger of the right hand. Both conditions resulted from constant use of the mouse. The solution in these cases? A $12.50 investment in mouse pads with wrist supports.