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Risk Factors that Cause Injuries

A risk factor is a working condition that increases the chance of developing a RSI. Each of the risk factors described here can cause problems. However, it is usually the case that workers are exposed to more than one risk factor at a time.
  • Repetitive motion: This refers to performing the same motion or motion pattern every few seconds or on a continuous basis for hours at a time. 

  • Awkward posture: Whether standing or sitting, there is a neutral position for the back, neck, arms and hands. This is the position that puts the least amount of physical strain on the particular part of the body. Postures that differ from the neutral position increase stress on the body. 
Overhead Work
Figure 1
Overhead work, twisted or bent back, bent wrists, squatting or stooping are examples of body positions and movements that cause problems. See Figure 1.

  • Long periods of repetitive activity (duration): This is the amount of time workers perform a motion or movement pattern during the workday. 

  • Lack of recovery time: Recovery is rest or a break from a risk factor. 

  • Forceful movement: This is the effort or pressure workers need to perform various tasks. Forceful movements include lifting a heavy object, unscrewing a rusted bolt, or squeezing an object in your hand. Another type of force, known as contact stress, comes from pressure against part of the body. For example, resting the wrists against the sharp edge of a desk while working at a computer puts pressure on the wrists. 

  • Vibration: Exposure to vibration can affect particular parts of body, such as the hands, when using power tools. This is known as localized vibration. Workers who drive trucks or work with jackhammers are exposed to whole bodyvibration. 

  • Uncomfortable environmental conditions: An uncomfortable environment can be dangerous as well as unpleasant. High temperature and humidity can make workers drowsy and less alert. Excessive noise damages hearing. Glare and bright lighting while working with computers can cause headaches and vision problems. 

  • Stressful work organization: This refers to the way jobs are organized. These factors include staffing levels, scheduling workload and job pacing, electronic monitoring, performing monotonous tasks, and the amount of control workers have over how they perform their jobs. These are sometimes called psychosocial factors. 

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