Preventing repetitive strain injury (RSI) caused by workstations

Written by: Fit for Work team | Posted in: Blog

RSIpreventionWe often hear of the negative effects of working at a desk – studies have shown that it can increase the risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, and even cancer.

But the truth is that the vast majority of us have no choice but to work at a desk. Standing or height-adjustable desks are well out of the budget of most companies, and while doing exercise before or after office hours is a great way to improve your health, it just doesn’t go far enough to counteract the daily effects of desk work.

If you don’t have any option but to work at a desk, it’s vital that your workstations are set up properly so that when you are sitting down and working, you’re doing so in the best way possible. Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), a condition where pain is caused in certain parts of the body due to overuse or poor working posture, is increasingly common – one in 50 of all UK workers have reported an RSI condition, and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) reports that six UK workers permanently leave their jobs each day due to RSI.

The Fit for Work advice hub has a designated section on preventing aches and pains from using display screen equipment, but below we’ve also compiled some top things to consider to make sure that your workstation is set up properly to help prevent conditions like RSI:

  • Sit up straight, with your back always touching the back of your chair.
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor when you sit at your desk – if they aren’t, consider asking for a footrest so that you can rest your legs comfortably.
  • Adjust your chair so that your knees are level with your hips, and don’t sit cross-legged.
  • Your computer screen should be placed at eye level, roughly an arm’s length away. It should be tilted up slightly, so that you only have to move your eyes to see your whole screen.
  • Your mouse and keyboard should be easily within reach so that you don’t have to stretch, as well as any office objects you use regularly, like your phone or a stapler.

These suggestions should help to cut your risk of developing RSI or other aches and pains that can be developed as a result of desk-based work. But one sure-fire way to help cut the strain caused by working at a desk all day is to simply move more. Taking a break from sitting every half an hour to walk to the kitchen, chat to a colleague or just stretch your legs for five minutes can massively improve your health at work.

Visit the Fit for Work website for more free, expert and impartial health-related work advice.

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