Repetitive strain injuries are a serious occupational health concern across the world and are recognized as leading causes of significant human suffering, loss of productivity and economic burdens on society. It not only affects physical health, but it can have an impact on the enjoyment of life and mental well-being. To help minimize the risks of any workplace injury, we need to constantly create awareness of these issues, be conscious of early warning signs of RSI and provide practical solutions.
The emerging nature of jobs moving towards knowledge-based industries and shifting demographics are requiring a heightened level of consciousness within businesses of these evolving RSI challenges. Early recognition and intervention is a direct result of increased awareness throughout an organization, and is the foundation of any successful prevention program.
Each year, the last day of February is reserved for International Strain Injury (RSI) Awareness Day, a day dedicated to RSI education and prevention. Today marks the 13th annual RSI Awareness day.
Repetitive strain injuries is an umbrella term to describe a family of painful disorders affecting tendons, muscles, nerves and joints in the neck, upper and lower back, chest, shoulders, arms and hands. These disorders can be caused by work activities that are frequent and repetitive and involve awkward postures.
A fundamental principle of occupational health and safety is that hazards are best eliminated at the source. Any of these preventive and control measures, in order to be truly effective, require effort and involvement on the part of management, workers, and their representatives. CCOHS offers a variety of resources, including fact sheets, podcasts, webinars, and e-courses to support these initiatives.
Historically, workplace health and safety programs and policies have addressed factors affecting the physical well-being and comfort of workers, without considering mental and psychosocial aspects. Now, a growing body of research, along with compensation data, shifting demographics and an ever widening shift from traditional to newer knowledge industries, serve as indications that we must pay the same attention and focus to our workers’ psychological health.
Employees who are engaged in their work are likely to be mentally and physically healthy, passionate, and emotionally committed to their work and to their organization. As well, statistics have shown that a positive work environment results in reduced rates of absenteeism, stress levels, injuries and illnesses, while showing increased rates of morale and job satisfaction.
According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, each year, about one in every five Canadians will experience a diagnosable mental health problem or illness. It is all pervasive, so when it comes to mental well-being, there is no us and them. We must look to prevention solutions that are both comprehensive and take an individual view as well – promoting a workplace strategy that: is for all ages; supports individuals at risk; intervenes early; considers lifestyle and social environment; and, assists all towards recovery.
Meeting the demands of a mentally healthy work environment requires a commitment and new capacities within an organization, and that is why total worker well-being is the focus of our upcoming Forum IV national conference in October. It’s an opportunity for participants to collaborate on integrated, comprehensive approaches to total health and wellness at work. There is a connection between the mental, physical, and psychosocial aspects of both the work and non-work environments. Key discussion areas will include mental health, psychosocial work factors and musculoskeletal disorders, harassment and bullying, and integrated workplace health and safety.
Here at CCOHS we recently shared the results of our employee engagement survey with our staff. Our overall emotional wellness score, calculated from our responses to questions concerning mental and physical energy, focus, self-worth, control, lifestyle, mood, and ability to function, put us in the top 20% of all organizations measured, and at the top of governmental and not-for-profit organizations. CCOHS scored high on its growing leadership strength, work/life balance, values, and positive physical working conditions.
We received a great score and positive feedback, but there is always room for improvement. Over the next few months, we’ll be forming action teams and putting forth recommendations for improvement. In fostering the group values of mental health and well-being in the workplace, we’ll also be celebrating our positive results and building on our strengths, while working towards a clear vision of the workplace experience that our employees want to see.