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Lather, rinse, repeat

By Melissa Babcock

Most days involve a fair bit of repetition. Personally, I have a pretty set routine during the week. In the mornings, I get up, make breakfast for my daughter, get us cleaned up and dressed, make lunches and get out the door in time to get my daughter to school and myself to work. Then once I get to work, I typically do the same thing each morning without much variation: hang up my coat, get a coffee, check email and then tackle my to-do list for the day. A certain amount of repetitive behaviour is usually a part of life, however too much of it at work can actually be hazardous to your health.

Repetitive strain injuries are among the most common work-related injuries and are caused when the same parts of the body are used over and over again in the same manner. Whether you spend your work days in an office, sitting at a desk in front of a computer, or on a construction site continuously bending and lifting, you could be at risk for conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis or bursitis, to name just a few. So what can you do to protect yourself?

  • Good posture is crucial. We’ve all been told at some point to straighten up, to pull our shoulders back and not to slouch. This is especially important if your work requires a lot of repetitive movement. If you’re sitting, make sure your feet are flat on the floor, your knees are over your feet and your shoulders and arms are relaxed. When standing, evenly disperse your weight between both of your feet and avoid static postures by moving around as much as possible.
  • Use proper equipment. If you spend a lot of time at work on your feet, make sure you have good footwear that fits properly. Maintain a good body position when using any tools required to do your job. And in an office, a good ergonomic chair that is adjusted properly can make all the difference.
  • Take breaks. Whenever you can, stretch, move and get off your feet.

Get more details and tips on how to avoid repetitive strain injuries at work by clicking on any of the links below. And remember, when in doubt, ask for help – everyone shares responsibility for ensuring health and safety in the workplace!

Sources:

http://web.eecs.umich.edu/~cscott/rsi.html

http://cupe.ca/rsi/repetitive-strain-injuries

http://www.wsib.on.ca/files/Content/Downloadable%20FileRepetitive%20Strains%20Injury%20Prevention/RSI.pdf

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