We’re now a year into a global pandemic that’s put a greater strain on front-line workers than we’ve seen in generations – a strain that has impacted the working conditions, the jobs, and the health and safety of people keeping our communities functioning and safe.

On International Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) Awareness Day, CUPE Ontario takes this moment to pay special attention to the compounding impacts of repetitive work.

RSIs, also known as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), are a collection of ailments affecting the tendons, muscles, and nerves and joints in the neck, back, chest, shoulders, arms, and hands. These injuries are caused by repetition and by overuse, excessive strain, uncomfortable positioning of limbs, and more. It’s so widespread that, according to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), more than 40 per-cent of injuries causing time off work are due to RSI and MSDs.

But as widespread as they are, they’re also preventable. They take root in the fertile ground of austerity measures, which cause hiring freezes and layoffs. In the face of this pandemic, workloads have piled up in nearly every workplace. Workers are left unprotected and unsupported, working long hours and taking on more duties with fewer co-workers.

It’s added up. RSIs and MSDs are skyrocketing – but they don’t have to be.

Workers deserve better than to experience chronic and very preventable injuries. We need more support in the workplace; with decent work, we can more effectively provide the services Ontarians rely on.

This is the time to continue to raise awareness and ensure the solutions we need become a reality. We encourage members to review CUPE’s fact sheet and to share it with co-workers and community members. We also encourage members to take a close look at the MSD Prevention website.