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Office and manufacturing workers most at risk for RSIs

From an assembly line worker who performs the same tasks for several hours per day to an office worker who sits and types for the majority of the workday, injuries related to repetitive motions are among the most prevalent and costly for workers and employers alike. In fact, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, repetitive stress injuries account for roughly "30 percent of all workplace injuries that result in lost workdays," to the tune of an estimated $17 to $20 billion annually.

Early symptoms of RSI include tingling or numbness in the hands and arms, muscle weakness and heaviness in a particular limb and general pain in the arms, shoulders or neck. Workers who have experienced any of these types of symptoms would be wise to report their symptoms to an employer right away and to seek a medical evaluation.

To help prevent the development of RSI, workers who sit at a computer for most of the day are advised to ensure that their workstations are set up to follow the rules of good ergonomics. For example, a work chair should support an individual's spine, a computer monitor should be directly in front of a worker and wrists should be kept straight while typing. Additionally, it's also important to take frequent breaks to rest and stretch.

For individuals who work on an assembly line or perform some other type of manual labor tasks, any machinery or tools that are used should have shock-absorbent rubber grips. In cases where work duties are conducted at a table or along an assembly line, a worker should ensure that he or she is able to easily and comfortably reach all work materials while standing or sitting up straight. Additionally, when possible, it's important to vary work duties and also take frequent breaks.

If left untreated, RSI can result in a worker suffering painful and debilitating injuries that may make it difficult to impossible to perform assigned work duties. It's critical, therefore, that workers who experience early symptoms of RSI get help.

Source: Health Day, "Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI)," Paige Bierma, M.A., Jan. 20, 2016

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