While repetitive motion injuries (RMIs) are common among athletes, these injuries can occur in the workplace. Also known as repetitive stress injuries or cumulative trauma disorders, RMIs impact a broad range of occupations, including jobs that require heavy lifting and stationary office roles. RMIs occur when continuous physical stress from daily tasks damages nerves, tendons or muscles quicker than the body can heal from such stress. Employees may be at greater risk of experiencing RMIs on the job if they:
- Maintain static or awkward postures for long periods of time.
- Lift or carry heavy objects.
- Use equipment that vibrates (e.g., power tools).
- Work in cold temperatures.
- Conduct repetitive movements using muscles, joints or ligaments.
- Work in high-stress environments.
RMIs can cause several conditions, including tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis and rotator cuff injuries. If left untreated, these injuries can worsen and make it difficult to continue working. There are various safety tips that employees can follow to minimize RMIs. Consider these best practices:
- Prioritize ergonomics. According to OSHA, one of the best methods to prevent RMIs in the workplace is to implement ergonomics—fitting a job to a person. With this in mind, be sure to adjust your workstation to allow you to maintain a comfortable position and use a chair that provides proper back support, if applicable.
- Rest your body. Take regular breaks from repetitive tasks by going on short walks around the workplace or stretching. Consult your supervisor and allow your body ample time to recover if any pain arises from repetitive tasks.
- Use safe techniques. Practice proper techniques when lifting, using equipment or typing. In addition, make it a priority to uphold good posture throughout the workday.
For more information on RMI prevention measures, talk to your supervisor.