Repetitive strain injury (RSI) or cumulative trauma disorder may be caused by one or more of the following risk factors:
- Repetitive work
- Excessive or sustained force
- Uncomfortable working postures
- Carrying out a singular task for prolonged periods of time
- Poor working environment (e.g. temperature too high or too low or poor lighting)
- Poor work organisation (e.g. excessive job demands; lack of work breaks)
Individual differences may make some workers more susceptible to be affected by certain risks. Workers exposed to more than one of these risk factors face an increased likelihood of developing repetitive strain injuries.
Injuries to the muscles may be caused by:
- Prolonged and repeated arm use
- Working with unsuitable (in terms of body size) equipment
- Working too fast
- Holding muscles in one position for prolonged periods
- Lack of recovery breaks
- Lack of training in safe working procedures
- Working in low temperature environments
If the work done lacks variety and a worker is forced to perform the same action over and over, the likelihood of developing RSI is significantly increased.
How muscles are affected
Tiny tears may occur within muscle tissue whenever muscles are used. The area surrounding the tissue becomes inflamed while the body tries to repair this damage. As scar tissue and thickening form over the damaged tissue, the affected individual experiences pain. Under normal circumstances, the body has the ability to repair the damaged tissue and the pain will cease. Without sufficient rest, however, the continued activity causes additional damage, resulting in more inflammation and thickening, more scar tissue and increasing pain. Unless adequate rest is taken, this cycle will progressively get worse.
Muscle overuse symptoms
In addition to aching, burning or shooting pain, sufferers may also experience:
- Lack of strength
- Hand or forearm weakness
- Difficulties performing simple tasks
In some cases, clumsiness, numbness or tremors, as well as chronically cold hands may also be experienced.
Employers have the legal duty to protect workers against accidents at work. This includes minimising the risk of workers developing cumulative trauma disorders. If you suffer from RSI because your employer did nothing to prevent you from developing this work related condition, you may qualify for work injury compensation. Discuss your situation in complete confidentiality with one of the friendly, helpful advisers manning Accident Advice Helpline’s 24-hour helpline today to learn more about claiming for compensation. Call us on 0800 689 0500 or 0333 500 0993 if you’re calling from your mobile.
Date Published: February 27, 2015
Author: Accident Advice