Repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are a major issue in the workplace in Quebec. Although workers in certain activity sectors are clearly more at risk, over 45 000 workers are affected by RSI each year in Quebec, all activity sectors combined. This issue causes major physical and psychological pain, directly affects the quality of life of workers and has a negative impact on productivity. Moreover, the financial consequences are significant. According to the Health and Safety Commission (CSST), compensation costs for workers suffering from RSI reach nearly 500 million dollars a year, this represents 40% of total compensation costs of all work related injuries.
Many options are available to businesses to limit the impact of RSI in the workplace, such as the use of ergonomic chairs. This article will explain how these products can contribute in reducing the risks of RSI.
What is repetitive strain injury?
Repetitive strain injuries affect different structures of the body such as muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves. They can touch the upper and lower extremities and back. Usually, RSI develops gradually and may take several weeks or even several months before becoming bothersome. In fact, the slow and progressive nature of these injuries makes them difficult to manage over time. Repetitive strain injuries can also appear suddenly following a trauma.
Individuals affected by RSI may suffer from a multitude of symptoms. Among those reported are pain, stiffness, loss of mobility and strength as well as a tingling sensation and numbness. If these symptoms are ignored and no changes in work practices and organization are undertaken, the problem worsens. There lies the importance of intervening quickly. However, being proactive and finding efficient solutions that prevent repetitive strain injury before symptoms even appear remains the best option.
What are the risk factors of RSI?
Many factors contribute to RSI, among them are:
- An uncomfortable and tiring posture
- Major physical effort
- Repetitive movements in a difficult posture or requiring the use of force
- Work in a cold environment or being exposed to vibration
- Mechanical pressure or rubbing of objects on certain parts of the body
Other elements linked to these factors may have an impact on RSI such as duration, frequency and intensity of exposure to the risk factor.
How do ergonomic chairs reduce the risk of RSI?
The use of ergonomic chairs plays a key role when comes the time to prevent RSI. In fact, these chairs can significantly reduce the risk of injury by promoting good posture and decreasing physical efforts and pressure. Let’s take a closer look at these benefits:
1— Ergonomic chairs to prevent uncomfortable and tiring postures
When we refer to difficult and demanding postures we often think of workers that must work close to the ground, either crouched or kneeling. These positions are hard to hold over long periods of time, they also significantly limit blood circulation to the lower limbs due to the pronounced knee flexion that hampers venous return. In addition, further effort is required from the muscles and joints to maintain this unusual position. Kneeling or crouching often requires a flexion of the trunk which quickly leads to discomfort and to musculoskeletal injury over time, such as an injury to the lumbar region.
Use of an ergonomic chair allows the user to kneel while providing proper support for the torso and promoting greater muscle and joint mobility. In effect, these chairs reduce flexion of the knee and allow for a neutral position of the ankle and back joints. As a result, workers are more comfortable and less tired. This limits the risk of injury and promotes productivity.
2— Ergonomic chairs to decrease muscular efforts
Certain tasks require significant muscular effort, most notably when holding static postures. For example, during sustained use of the upper limbs, the shoulder muscles must work constantly and may even have to support some weight. Think of workers that must undertake certain tasks under an object and use manual tools to work in places higher than their shoulders. Effort is also increased in the cervical region, this causes additional discomfort.
Ergonomic chairs that limit the effort required from the upper limbs during work close to the ground are available. These chairs allow the user to easily slide under objects and some of them even have armrests to reduce muscular effort. This way, the shoulder, back, knee and ankle joints remain in an adequate position. Muscular effort and discomforts often linked to work in a static position decrease as a result.
3— Ergonomic chairs to reduce pressure
As mentioned previously in this article, work in a kneeling position places considerable strain on the knee joints while reducing blood flow to the lower limbs. The use of ergonomic chairs can limit this mechanical tension by providing comfortable and durable support surfaces. Contact pressure is applied when a hard or sharp object comes into contact with the skin. Soft tissues, such as nerves and blood vessels, can be injured under this pressure.
It is possible to reduce the risk of repetitive strain injury by taking appropriate action. The use of ergonomic chairs can considerably limit the negative impacts of bad posture at work. Be proactive; stop the scourge of repetitive strain disorder in the workplace by making concrete changes aimed at reducing muscular effort, fatigue and pressure on certain parts of the body.
Contact our specialists to learn about the different products to help you better prevent RSI!