The only way to fully remove the risk of repetitive strain injury (RSI) is to avoid using processes or equipment that might pose a risk. However, on a practical level, you may not be able to mechanise high-risk tasks, or protect employees from exposure to risk altogether. Risky tasks may be a crucial part of your core activities.
However, you can use your health and safety risk assessment to identify high-risk tasks and reduce their impact on your employees.
Make changes to reduce the risk of RSI
There are some relatively simple and low-cost changes that might bring significant benefits. Many of these relate to the way you organise your workplace, not the specific tasks you carry out. You can:
- break up periods of intensive or high-risk work - this reduces the chances of RSI developing
- arrange workstations and equipment to suit the workers using them, eg left-handed or very tall people may need different settings
- reduce the size or weight of things being handled, and/or the distances they're moved
- share high-risk tasks between a number of employees
- make sure your workplace is well lit - RSI can result from people adopting unusual positions to make the most of dim light or to avoid glare
In areas such as lighting, it's important that you comply with basic workplace standards. See what workplace facilities do you need to provide?
Equipment to reduce the risk of RSI
You might be able to find alternative equipment for your employees to use. For example:
- more advanced power tools that cause lower levels of vibration may be available
- a properly adjusted chair and a well-positioned screen, keyboard and mouse, combined with appropriate breaks, information and training, will reduce the risk of RSI for computer users
- the use of well-designed workstations and equipment such as conveyors can reduce the amount and/or difficulty of handling objects during manufacture, packing or loading
Whether you retain all your existing equipment and processes or introduce some new ones, training is crucial to minimising the risk of RSI. See train staff to avoid repetitive strain injury.