RSI – will workers ever listen?

RSI is in the news again today with the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy calling for employers to take RSI injuries more seriously. Among their recommendations are – regular breaks for workers, access to Occupational Health Specialists, and risk assessments for employees. All of these suggestions are great, and need to be seriously looked at since there appears to be a spiraling in the numbers of cases of RSI injuries. In the same article, according to the Health and Safety Executive, there were 115,00 new cases of RSI reported in the UK alone last year.

Coming from an office environment with a large employer, I have witnessed first hand how difficult it is to educate a workforce in the dangers of using a computer. Employers can spend vast sums of money on employee ergonomic education and can still make little impact on workers’ perceptions on computer use.

I have seen several instances of Ergonomists visiting an employee, giving them an ergonomic assessment and once they have gone, that employee saying to the effect, “They say that I’m not sitting properly, but what do they know, I’m sitting comfortably like I always do!”. (The said employee was slouching in the office chair like a sofa!).

My point is that it is easy to run ergonomic education courses, and give people assessments, but will the workers actually constructively listen to any advice and try to change anything or will they (as frequently happens) instantly be dismissive and return to their old habitual ways? Very often employees will only start to listen to ergonomic advice after they are injured, the pain being the motivation to find out why.

It’s probably indicative of this blog really, ie how many of you have found this site because you are experiencing an injury and you want to find out more, and how many are finding it as pre-emptive research? I’d wager that the majority of you fall into the first category.

It is for this reason that I run my own ‘Living with RSI‘ awareness lectures, so that employees can see and hear first hand how serious and debilitating these injuries can be. The hope is that I may alert attendees into proactively adopting the necessary changes to their ergonomic practices, and change their attitudes towards the advice of ergonomic/occupational health professionals.

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