What Does Repetitive Motion Injury (RMI) Mean?
A repetitive motion injury (RMI), generally referred to as a repetitive stress injury outside of the United States, is an injury associated with performing a single task repeatedly. It may be either temporary or permanent and involve damage to muscles, nerves, or tendons. Common workplace musculoskeletal disorders, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are usually caused by repetitive motion injuries.
Workplace tasks that involve repetitive strain on specific joint and muscle groups put workers at risk of sustaining an RMI. The field of occupational ergonomics is largely concerned with developing methods to reduce the risks of repetitive strain to human health.
Safeopedia Explains Repetitive Motion Injury (RMI)
The high costs and prevalence of repetitive motion injuries to workplaces are well-established in scientific literature and in workplace injury statistics. All major occupational health and safety agencies provide guidance related to workplace ergonomics with the intention of reducing the high number and costs of RMIs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 33 percent of workplace injuries are RMIs.
Although the impact of RMIs is widely acknowledged by OHS authorities, the actual regulations governing RMI prevention in workplaces vary considerably. OSHA has no specific regulations governing RMI prevention; however, the administration will use the general duty clause to cite employers who expose workers to repetitive strain hazards. In contrast, the United Kingdom’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE) maintains a set of Manual Handling Operations Regulations that include specific regulations designed to reduce the risk of an RMI.
Common types of work associated with RMIs include assembly, packing, computer work, hairdressing, and other manual tasks involving the hands and fingers. Hand-and arm-related injuries are the most common types of RMIs.
Risk factors associated with tasks that could cause an RMI include instances in which an individual must perform a task for a duration that exceeds six hours per day, as well as work that occurs for shorter durations but does not include the option to take short breaks or otherwise control the pace of work.