RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) - What is it?

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is an umbrella term for a number of overuse injuries affecting the soft tissues (muscles, tendons, and nerves) of the neck, upper and lower back, chest, shoulders, arms and hands. It now more commonly known as 'Occupational Overuse Syndrome'. 

Typically arising as aches and pains, these injuries can progress to become crippling disorders that prevent sufferers from working or leading normal lives.

Many workers workers suffer with overuse injuries to backs, shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees and feet. Some of the industries in which workers are injured include: auto and auto parts, aerospace, fishing, mining, smelting, hospitality, rail, airlines, trucking and driving, retail, wholesale, health care, electronics, packaging, building, clerical, furniture, clothing, food, cleaning, computing, journalism and academia, entertainment (musicians in particular).

And with many young people now spending hours in front of computers, the risk of developing RSI is growing.

The risk of RSI must be identified and reduced in workplaces - this must be done by implementing the requirements of the Manual Handling chapter (Part 3.1) of the Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2007. OHS Reps have an important role in ensuring that this is done in all workplaces.

See Also:

  • Useful links on RSI
    • The Australian RSI/OOS website
    • From the UK's TUC, the WorkSmart RSI webpage with lots of information on RSI, including symptoms, prevention and more.  pages
    • The RSI Awareness website. This site has a web directory and information.
    • from the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety: Computer Mouse - Common Problems from Use
    • The CTD Resource Network - This is a non-profit corporation in California providing information and assistance to the RSI community. Check out the RSI Handbook on the National Education Association website.
  • FAQs on office equipment, workstations and more on this site (eg under Office Administration)
  • This site's page on RSI Awareness Day - there are a number of flyers which can be downloaded.
  • General information on Manual Handling - Sprains and Strains

Last amended June 2015

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