Repetitive Strain Injury at Work (RSI)

Repetitive strain injury, otherwise known as upper limb disorder or non-specific upper limb pain is a general term that is used to describe the pain felt in nerves, muscles and tendons that is caused by overuse or repetitive movement. The type of work that you perform may result in Repetitive Strain Injury, like constant keyboard and mouse usage, so read below for symptoms and causes.

What causes Repetitive Strain Injury at Work (RSI)?

Certain things are thought to increase the risk of RSI including:

  • Doing a high-intensity activity for a long time without rest
  • Poor posture or activities that require you to work in an awkward position.
  • Repetitive activities.

Vibrating equipment and cold temperatures are also thought to increase the risk of getting RSI and can make the symptoms worse. Stress can also be a contributory factor.  A variety of jobs can lead to RSI such as working at a supermarket checkout, assembly/production line or typing at a computer.

Repetitive strain injuries are classified as industrial diseases when initiated by the work environment, the type of task or the equipment provided for performing that task. Under regulations within the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act (2007), employers are legally obligated to perform a risk assessment of any job within the workplace and assess the capability of the employee to complete a particular task without risk of injury or provide training and protective equipment to ensure the task is performed safely.

It is very important to work in an environment that has been adjusted appropriately and your employer has a legal obligation to try to prevent work-related RSI and ensure anyone who already has the condition doesn’t get any worse.

Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury

Symptoms of Repetitive Strain Injury include:

  • Throbbing
  • Stiffness
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Pain, tenderness or aching
  • Cramp
  • Weakness

Areas commonly affected by RSI are:

  • Wrists and hands
  • Forearms and elbows
  • Necks and shoulders

The symptoms may only present themselves when a particular repetitive action is being carried out. However, without treatment, the symptoms of RSI can eventually become constant and cause elongated periods of pain. The affected area may also swell and this can last for several months.

Repetitive Strain Injury at Work


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