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Repetitive stress injuries in the workplace

As the number of employees who use computers on a daily basis has increased, so too has the number of employees who report suffering musculoskeletal injuries and disorders. In some cases injuries to the hands, wrists, arms, neck and back are so painful that an individual may not be able to work and could even require surgery.

Frequently, these types of work injuries are classified as being repetitive stress injuries. Increasingly, employees who sit at a computer desk all day typing are being impacted by RSIs as such injuries are linked to poor ergonomics and the sheer amount of hours many individuals spend typing on a computer.

Annually, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports that RSI and other musculoskeletal disorders account for an estimated 30 percent of "workplace injuries that result in lost workdays," a number that costs employers between $17 and $20 billion each year. Thankfully there are steps that both employers and employees can take to minimize the risks of developing RSIs.

To reduce strain on employees' wrists, arms, necks and backs; employers would be wise to invest in office equipment that promotes proper ergonomics. Ensuring that chairs, desks and computer monitors are adjusted and fitted for each individual employee can go a long way towards preventing RSIs.

For employees who wish to prevent suffering these types of injuries, it's important to take frequent breaks. Taking regular breaks to stand up and stretch helps rest overly-fatigued muscles and realigns the spine. Additionally, it's important to maintain good posture while sitting at a desk and typing. Ensuring one's back is straight, feet are flat on the floor and wrists levels are all important to prevent RSI injuries.

Source: Consumer HealthDay, "Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI)," Paige Bierma, M.A., Oct. 8, 2015

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