Preventing repetitive strain injury (RSI) 

Preventing repetitive strain injury (RSI) or relieving your symptoms involves understanding what causes the problem. This includes your work, hobbies, general stress and posture.

Many repetitive strain injuries develop over a long period of time rather than suddenly.

Aspects of your working environment are likely to have the most impact on your RSI. Employers have a legal duty to prevent work-related RSI and make sure that the symptoms of anyone who already has the condition do not get worse.

Most employers will carry out something called a risk assessment or workstation assessment when you join a company. This is to check your work area is suitable and comfortable for you and that the risk of accident and injury is as low as possible. You can request an assessment if you have not had one.

Reviewing your work activities

Use the following as a guide to review your own work situation before you talk to your employer:

  • If you work at a computer all day, make sure your seat, keyboard, mouse and screen are positioned so that they cause the least amount of strain to your fingers, hands, wrists, neck and back. See tips on preventing RSI for more detailed advice about using a mouse and keyboard at work.
  • Sit at your desk with a good posture. Adjust your chair so that your forearms are horizontal with the desk and your eyes are the same height as the top of your computer screen. See how to sit at a desk correctly for more information.
  • Try to take regular breaks if you do a repetitive task at work. It is better to take smaller breaks more frequently than just one long break at lunch. You may find it useful to use a software package that reminds you to take regular breaks from the keyboard.

Speak to your employer if there is anything relating to your working environment that you feel could be improved.

You can review other aspects of your lifestyle yourself, such as your hobbies or general stress levels. The most important thing is to notice the factors that are causing or aggravating your RSI and make changes accordingly. See relieving stress for advice about ways you can help yourself relax.

More information on RSI and work-related upper limb disorders prevention can be found on the RSI Awareness website.

Healthy back at work

Trevor Shaw, principal ergonomist, explains how bad posture contributes to health problems including back pain. He describes how to improve your health at work.

Media last reviewed: 02/10/2013

Next review due: 02/10/2015

Typing on keyboard

Prevent RSI

Prevent repetitive strain injury (RSI), with tips on relaxation, checking your workstation and adjusting your computer

Page last reviewed: 17/12/2013

Next review due: 17/12/2015