Sheila Pantry, OBE
Are you suffering from RSI? Many people are suffering from repetitive strain injury (RSI), which is also called upper limb disorders or work related upper limb disorders (WRULDS) or musculosketetal disorders and do not know that there are a number of ways in which the problem may be alleviated.
Some WRULDS such as tenosynovitis or carpel tunnel syndrome (CTS) are well understood by doctors, whilst others have less distinct symptoms and have been the subject of some controversy.
WRULDS can be caused or made worse by work, though other activities such as sports and housework may be involved in some cases. Increasingly a problem throughout the world, WRULDS are the continuous subject of research which result in a flow of new information, guidance and advice.
Throughout Europe, the new Directives now require employers to assess health and safety risks. The employers with all employees must consider the possible risks of WRULDS as part of the continual assessment of the workplace. As work patterns alter, as new machinery or tools are introduced into the working environment, both the employer and the person using these machines and tools, whether they are a hand tool, computer or checkout counters must make sure that there is no long-term injuries. WRULDS can occur in jobs that require repetitive finger, hand, or arm movements, twisting movements, squeezing, hammering or pounding or pushing, pulling, lifting or reaching movements. Office based and manual jobs can cause WRULDS.
The consequences if action is not promptly taken can result in serious ill health, lost production, and compensation claims from those who have to stop working because of WRULDS.
So, what guidance is available? Many of the world's leading health and safety authorities, such as the International Labour Office, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions, Dublin, Ireland, the Health and Safety Authority also in Dublin, the UK Health and Safety Executive, the Ergonomics Society, the Ergonomics Unit at the University of Birmingham which produces Ergonomics Abstracts all have produced useful sources of guidance, advice, and interpretations of the European Directives.
Where do you find such references?
One easy answer is to use the SilverPlatter CD-ROM OSH-ROM, which currently is celebrating its 10th year of publication. Constantly updated, OSH-ROM is arguably the world's premier source of occupational health and safety information. The recent edition contains many thousands of references to all the variations of the words used - WRULDS, upper limb disorders, tenosynovitis, carpal tunnel syndrome etc.
Make sure that your working conditions will not give you some long term problems, act now and assess your workplace!
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