6 keys to preventing work-related MSD

The Institute for Work & Health (IWH) is reminding workplaces about the 12th Annual RSI Awareness Day, and urging everyone to help in the prevention of repetitive strain injuries (RSI) and musculoskeletal disorders (MSD).

Now on its 12th year, RSI Awareness Day is held annually on the last day of February to draw attention to work-related musculoskeletal injuries that result in painful disorders of the tendons, muscles, nerves and joints in the neck, back, chest, shoulders, arms and hands.

The IWH is active in conducting research and developing tools to prevent MSDs. Based on its reviews of thousands of studies on preventing workplace injuries, the IWH has developed six messages for preventing MSDs:

•    Communicate that ergonomics and other MSD prevention programs are effective.

•    Encourage participatory ergonomics (PE) programs in which workers and supervisors identify problems and solutions together.

•    Incorporate the elements that are critical to the success of a PE program, namely management support, sufficient resources, ergonomics and organizational training, a representative team and effective communications.

•    Favour multi-component programs that target different levels of staff (such as implementing workstation adjustments, ergonomics training and policy changes together)

•    Remind everyone there are no “quick fixes."

•    Consider exercise programs, which not only help prevent MSDs, but also promote general good health.

To help organizations observe RSI Awareness Day, IWH offers the latest research on the causes and prevention of these injuries, as well as evidence-based tools such as the MSD Tool Kit and the Neck Pain Evidence Summary. Visit the IWH website at www.iwh.on.ca for more information on RSI prevention.