Companies should be encouraging workers to undertake touch typing courses as well as educating them on how to sit at their desks, it has been claimed, as this could help to prevent the onset of repetitive strain injury (RSI).
Such touch typing courses will be able to help workers in learning to use their fingers evenly across the keys, according to Bronwyn Clifford, chartered occupational health physiotherapist and director of Physio at Work (www.physioatwork.co.uk).
Touch typing courses will also help those workers who are typing with just their thumbs and index fingers, a strategy which can overload them, Ms Clifford went on to say.
She explained that people who undertake typing courses may also benefit from learning to sit properly at their workstations.
What Else Can Be Done To Prevent RSI?
So what besides touch typing courses can both workers and companies do to help prevent the onset of RSI?
Ms Clifford said that firms should promote the taking of breaks and especially lunch breaks.
“At many companies, there is a culture of people not taking lunch breaks.
” I often find that in companies where people have high workloads, people feel guilty if they go on their lunch break because no one else does.”
“I talk to directors of companies and say to them that they have got to try and create a culture of not frowning upon people who take lunch breaks. They should be encouraging it, getting people out of the office and walking around.”
Ms Clifford noted that some companies have canteens or cafeterias on site which are “great” as workers can go and have their lunch away from their desk.
Getting out of the office or even simply leaving the office to get some lunch rather than bringing it in and eating it at the desk can help people looking to avoid RSI, she commented.
For those already having to cope with discomfort, breaking for a few minutes every 30-40 minutes can help as these workers will need to be taking time out more often than others, Ms Clifford asserted.
“Try and get out of your chair and walk around whenever you can rather than just sitting down. I often suggest that if people are on the phone, they should try to stand up and use a headset so that they are moving around.”
“Go and talk to your colleagues rather than sending them an email. Get up and go and find them and have a chat.”
The expert also indicated that doing a variety of tasks at the desk can aid those hoping to avoid RSI.
“Employers should ensure that their staff can carry out a variety of tasks at their desk, so it is not just typing 100 per cent of the time. For example they could alternate between reading from hard copy documents, writing notes or phone work, not just solely computer work.”
There are a variety of other measures that employees themselves can take on board, which Janelle Adsit, New York environmental health expert for examiner.com, has noted.
Ms Adsit, who asserted that almost all of us are at risk from RSI, recommended changing the work environment as well as carrying out exercises to strengthen muscles and tendons.
Eating well and avoiding being overweight were also advocated by Ms Adsit, who advised the use of a wrist brace on each arm while sleeping.
RSI Sufferers And Symptoms.
Many workers are suffering from RSI, if figures are to be believed, and it is a growing problem.
A recent survey by Microsoft showed that 68 per cent of respondents were suffering from some kind of RSI and a poll of 1,000 office employees revealed that cases had soared by over 30 per cent in the last year.
At the time of the survey, Sophie Barnave-Gaffney from Microsoft asserted that there is a significant lack of understanding over the need for ergonomics in the working environment.
The actual cause of RSI is unknown but it is related to the overuse of muscles in people’s hands, wrists, arms or shoulders.
Symptoms can include pain, numbness and tingling, so these may be particularly difficult to cope with for those in secretarial positions.
Treatment can involve anti-inflammatory painkillers, while heat or cold packs as well as elastic supports can provide relief for the sufferer.
Physiotherapy, acupuncture and osteopathy may also help those that are having to cope with RSI.
Ms Clifford said that for those experiencing some kind of discomfort, it is worth going to see a physiotherapist or an ergonomist as soon as possible. These professionals can also advise people on alternative equipment such as keyboards or mice that may help with the easing or prevention of RSI.