RSI DAY – Raising Awareness Feb 29th


RSI Day – Raising Awareness

ed and mike

International Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) AwarenessDay is February 29th (this year February 28). As the only “non-repetitive” day of the year, it’s the date devoted to raising awareness of repetitive strain injuries. What is an RSI? Also known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), repetitive strain injuries (RSI) describe a family of painful disorders affecting muscles, tendons, nerves and joints. MSDs are the most frequent type of lost-time injury and the single largest source of lost-time costs in Canada.

Risk factorsinclude gripping, holding, bending, twisting, clenching, and reaching – these ordinary movements that we naturally make every day are not particularly harmful in the activities of our daily lives. What does make them hazardous in work situations though, is the continual repetition of the movements. Other contributing work factors may include awkward postures and fixed body positions, excessive force concentrated on small parts of the body such as the hand or wrist, vibrations, a fast pace of work with insufficient breaks or recovery time, and psychosocial factors such as stress. Generally, none of these factors acts separately to cause MSDs. MSDs frequently occur because of a combination and interaction of factors. Over time these common actions can result in pain, weakness, aches, tingling and numbness.

Eliminating hazards at the source is the most effective solution by focusing on avoiding repetitive patterns of work through job design changes. If the elimination of repetitive patterns isn’t possible then we can use many prevention strategies, such as:

  • Automating tasks with technology and mechanization
  • Rotating jobs and tasks to engage different muscles groups
  • Distributing work evenly between team workers
  • Increasing the variety of tasks in a job
  • Workplace design: Adjusting the workstation to the worker to allow standing, sitting, or sitting-standing positions
  • Assistive devices: Using carts, hoists, or other mechanical handling devices
  • Training workersto understand what causes these injuries, how best to prevent them, and how to recognize the early signs and symptoms of RSI.
  • Work practices: allowingshort, frequent rest periods, and giving workers more control
  • Tool and equipment design: Providing appropriate, carefully maintained tools and equipment that decrease the force required to operate, prevent muscle strain and avoid awkward positions

RSIs take time to develop so it is important to watch for the signs. Recognizing that symptoms ofpain, joint stiffness, muscle tightness, redness, swelling of an affected area, numbness, “pins and needles” sensations, and skin colour changes are all possible symptoms of injury. Because most work activities require the use of the arms and hands, many MSDs affect the hands, wrists, elbows, neck and shoulders. However, work using the lower body can lead to MSDs of the legs, hips, ankles, and feet, and some back problems can also result from repetitive activities. The pain from these disorders can be felt during work or at rest after work and our ability to recover depends on disrupting the repetitive patterns of work.                                                                                                                                                                          

Gen V Piston Pushers                                      

So, what are we doing about repetitive strain injuries? Last year, Edward Steers and Taylor Dempster attended a one-day RSI Day conference in Toronto, to gain valuable knowledge and resources from labour experts in the field of RSIs and WSIB. This year Mike Pagano and Taylor Dempster will be attending the RSI Day conference.

On Friday Jan. 25, Taylor Dempster and Edward Steers initiated a special Sprains and Strains/Ergonomics Committee meeting to discuss Gen V Piston Pushers. We noticed they have experienced 3 (now 4) similar injuries in the past couple months that we believe to be RSI related. We asked to have an ergonomic review of the jobs in this area, to gather data to enable us to determine if changes are needed to prevent any further injuries. One issue we reviewed at the Ergo Committee was a new sprains and strains assessment tool that was developed in Oshawa. This tool is a framework for an interview of the member who has an ergo issue or injury, in the presence of our Ergo Rep Taylor Dempster and the area Industrial Engineer to give feedback and data to help find the root cause of the concern. We agreed to try it with a team member in piston pushing in Gen V Assembly to try to pin point the source of the 4 injuries of sore necks and shoulders our members have experienced here since December. We were all very impressed with the result of the use of this tool, and it has given us a direction to explore for resolving this issue so no one else is injured. We reviewed the information collected to establish short term and long-term improvements with timetables for completion. We will continue to work through the Ergo Committee to identify, investigate and work to resolve ergonomic issues and concerns.

As worker members of the JHSC, in addition to annual physical inspections of our workplace for safety issues, another part of our job is auditing the company’s safety system. On our most recent audit of the Level 4/5 boards, we spotted a trend regarding ergonomic concerns. Seems once the ergo concerns box is checked on the Level 5 sheet, escalation through the process was stalled. Escalation ensures the issues are discussed and resolved. A number of issues were highlighted and sent to the Ergonomics Committee seeking support, not only for resolving this gap in the process but for resolution of the issues as well. The Ergo Committee meets monthly, but is a resource we can use to resolve issues anytime.

If anyone is experiencing possible symptoms of repetitive strain injury, we strongly encourage early reporting of these symptoms, so we can identify and control job-related risk factors. Talk to your Team, T/L or G/L, and report to Medical.  You can also report ergonomic concerns using the Employee Safety Concern Process. Check the ergo concern box on the Level 5 sheet to drive escalation for appropriate resolution. See us or call us anytime to help.

2019 Metalworking Fluids Exposure Assessment

Week of February 25, the company has agreed to perform part one of the metalworking fluids exposure assessment. For three days next week, people will be going column to column to measure the air throughout the plant. Personal sampling will come later TBD. A couple individuals have come forward to volunteer to wear an exposure monitor for that part of the assessment. Please let us know if you are interested in participating.

Unifor Health and Safety Rep Edward Steers, 905 641 6420, Cell/Text 905 658 3271,
Alternate Unifor Health and Safety Rep Mike Pagano,   905 641 6420, PTT 7440029,