Every year millions of Canadian adults suffer from crippling repetitive strain injuries
(RSIs), also referred to as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), seriously limiting their daily activities. For some, the injuries and associated pain can impede their ability to work, care for themselves, even care for loved ones.
Many of these injuries are caused by work-related activity
. In fact, MSDs are the largest classification of lost-time injury reported to Ontario’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) making up approximately one-third of all claims.
Beyond the MSDs reported to the WSIB, a significant body of research evidence and the experiences of workers suggest many more MSDs are never reported to or recognized by the WSIB
Beyond the social, emotional and economic costs
suffered by affected individuals and their loved ones are significant economic costs to all Canadians. In fact, research evidence suggests these costs are likely between $40 and $67 billion dollars annually (and this is US dollars). Much of this paid, not by employers who operate unsafe workplaces, but by Canadian taxpayers through the health care and income support systems. These statistics, the economic costs and the painful experiences behind them demand solutions.
To help focus attention on this epidemic, communities across Ontario and around the world have proclaimed the last day of February International RSI Awareness Day
. On this day, special events are held to build awareness and promote regulatory and workplace actions designed to prevent RSIs/MSDs and their impact on workers, their families and the economy.
What can be done?
Fortunately, most RSIs/MSDs are preventable. Critical actions that can be taken include:
- Organize and/or participate in an RSI Awareness Day event
- Report symptoms and the hazards you feel are responsible to your supervisor and joint health and safety committee (JHSC) or health and safety representative
- Report work-related MSDs to WSIB immediately
- Insist on quality training to address these issues
- Insist on quality training to prepare JHSC members or health and safety representatives to act on their rights and duties to recommend ergonomic prevention solutions
- Press employers to implement ergonomic prevention solutions
- Encourage governments to enact effective and enforced ergonomic regulations, including standardized training.
Download WHSC docs for sharing