Preventing Repetitive Motion Injuries (RMI's) in the Workplace
 Feb. 28, 2012

A growing number of CMTA’s group injuries have been attributed to repetitive motion tasks. As technology fills our non-occupational hours with computer use, gaming, texting and other actions which require repetitive hand/finger use, it becomes a challenge to prevent RMI’s in the workplace.
Savvy employers understand human factors, outside influences and effective ergonomic design.

Human Factors to Consider

People are Different We know that people come in different shapes and sizes. Yet we often setup the work place using a "one size fits all"approach.

People have Limitations People have physical and mental limits for many work conditions and tasks. Employees may have different tolerance levels for excessive motions. They may have different mental capabilities to think, react and process information. What may be overwhelming to one, may not be to another.

Prevalent Occupational Risk Factors:

1. Repetition: The number of repetitive motions made per work day
Reduce number of motions or smooth the motions.
When possible, use machines to do the work.
Implement a job rotation schedule.
Encourage hourly stretches. A number of short breaks are better than a single long one.
Reduce/eliminate overtime.

2. Force: The exertion used to do the job
Reduce the exertion needed to accomplish the task.
Use mechanical assists
Reduce pulling and pushing forces

3. Posture: Awkward positions assumed while working.
Design tasks, equipment and tools to keep the body (shoulders, neck, back, wrist, etc.) in a natural or "neutral" position.
Keep the natural curve of the spine intact.
Lift loads at about waist height.
Keep arms low and elbows in.
Eliminate twisting motions.
Place parts and tools at easy-to-reach positions.
Provide good chairs, with lumbar support and adjustment capabilities, for those who work in a seated position.
Provide anti-fatigue mats for employees who stand throughout the work day.
Assure adequate lighting.
Make sure people have enough space to work – provide ample clearance for head, knees, feet, etc.

Ongoing attention to workplace tasks, processes and setup are imperative to preventing repetitive motion injuries. Consider employee differences and limitations and implement controls accordingly.

If your company has experienced two or more repetitive motion injuries (involving the same repetitive task) in a 12-month period, the Cal/OSHA Repetitive Motion Injury Prevention standard has been triggered. This standard requires that a formal program be in place to cover related employee training, workstation evaluations and controls.


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