For the fifth year in a row, the last day in February is being lauded as International RSI Awareness Day, a day that organizers say is intended to help focus the attention on repetitive strain injuries, also referred to as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs).
Choosing February 29 for the event, or February 28 during non-leap years, the only non-repeating day of the year, means that workers, health and safety professionals and health care practitioners will have a full-day’s opportunity to raise awareness of MSDs and how to prevent them, particularly in the workplace. For 2004, the Repetitive Strain Injury Association (RSIA) has also deemed the entire week of February 23 through 29 as RSI Awareness Week in the U.K.
“This is the first RSI Awareness Week, due to unprecedented interest around RSI Awareness Day in previous years. It’s a great time to involve staff in workstation assessments and jointly identify risks and ways of working that could potentially lead to injury, and to correct them. Otherwise, long hours at inappropriate workstations are a recipe for disaster,” said RSIA Information Manager Richard Southorn in an RSIA press statement.
U.K. events marking the awareness campaign include everything from low-key information drives on company intranet systems and in-house newsletters to a raffle of a massage couch and public information and advice presentations. Canadian events marking RSI day include conferences, awareness gatherings and even a skating party in Toronto.
RSIA estimates that half a million workers in the U.K. have reported a work-related MSD and that, on average, six people each day leave their job in the U.K. due to a similar condition. Additionally, the group notes that a U.S. study in 1999 indicated that for every dollar invested in an ergonomics intervention intended to help prevent MSDs, companies could expect to see a return of nearly $18.00.
“Doing nothing is not an option”, said Southorn. “A huge amount of money is being wasted and people are becoming injured. Organizations need a good strategy for dealing with [MSD] conditions. Without a cross-departmental approach and input from workers, employers will continue to face the cost of [MSD] conditions and individuals will continue to be injured.”