Safety Tips Ergonomics Office safety Workstations

Preventing repetitive strain/stress injuries

elbow pain

Photo: nebari/iStock/Thinkstock

If reaching, grabbing, clenching, twisting or bending causes pain, you may have a repetitive strain injury.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, RSI – also known as repetitive stress injury – is a general term encompassing injuries that affect tendons, muscles, nerves and soft tissues. These types of injuries cause continual and recurring pain – most often in the neck, shoulders, hands, wrists and lower limbs.

CCOHS notes that jobs that require employees to perform the same type of task over and over, including working on assembly lines or using a computer all day, can result in RSIs.


RSIs often can be prevented by eliminating repetitive work, CCOHS states, noting that job tasks should be created with employees in mind.

Can workers move around and use separate muscle groups? Are multiple tasks involved, allowing employees to move around?

Additional prevention tips from CCOHS include:

  • If a job task is repetitive, ensure the employee’s workstation is designed to fit his or her body size and shape. An ideal workstation should allow a worker to both sit and stand.
  • Provide workers with ergonomic tools. This could range from a wrist pad for workers who use computers all day to ergonomic mats for those on their feet for long shifts.
  • RSIs develop over time. Train workers to recognize the early symptoms, such as localized pain and soreness. Additionally, allow frequent breaks for workers to let them relax their muscles and relieve tension.
  • Do not ignore RSI cases. The longer a worker performs the task causing the injury, the higher the risk of permanent damage.