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Causes of repetitive strain injuries in the workplace

When you think of a workplace injury, you may first imagine an accident with immediate consequence. For example, slipping and falling can cause you to immediately break a bone or suffer a concussion. However, not all occupational injuries happen this way. Some develop over time and can sneak up on you. 

Repetitive strain injuries occur as a result of repeating motions. These motions can place stress on your tendons, ligaments, nerves, joints and muscles. Understanding the causes of these injuries can help you prevent them. Additionally, you can recognize them more easily and seek compensation as soon as possible. 

How they happen

Various repetitive tasks, awkward positions, forceful exertions and vibrations cause repetitive motion disorders. Many workplace activities, environments and equipment can increase your risk of sustaining an RSI:

  • Carrying heavy loads
  • Holding a posture for long periods of time
  • A workplace with poor ergonomics
  • Vibrating equipment
  • Overusing particular muscles
  • Fatigue

These hazards exist in virtually every workplace. For example, if you work in an office environment, typing on a computer in a non-ergonomically designed workplace can result in RSIs. If you work at a construction site, using power tools or carrying heavy items can cause strain.

Recognizing the signs

There is a wide variety of potential symptoms. Common signs include pain, tenderness, a pulsating sensation, tingling and loss of strength. If you notice any of these occurring because of your work, you may want to report the injury to your employer and initiate a workers' compensation claim. 

Preventing RSIs

It can be hard to avoid cumulative trauma from developing or getting worse if it is a result of necessary work activities. But you can reduce the risk even if you cannot stop the related activity. Taking regular breaks, stretching, avoid slouching and getting regular exercise can all prevent RSIs from worsening or occurring. 

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