Thursday, February 28, 2019 will be the 20th year that workers and allies will gather in Toronto to demand that employers and the government take action toward preventing and properly compensating workers in Ontario who continue to suffer with Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSIs).
RSI is a generic term used to describe overuse injuries that affect muscles, tendons and nerves of the neck, upper and lower back, shoulders, arms and hands. These injuries do not make newspaper headlines. Many RSI’s develop over time and suffering workers initially attempt to cope/adjust to their pain in silence for fear of being stigmatized. Yet, a RSI suffered by a worker not only affects the workplace, it influences the worker’s quality of life – FOREVER!
RSI’s can take years to develop, they can be difficult to diagnose and determining causality may be complex; thus making it easy for employers to ignore and an easier target for WSIB in its continuous efforts to cut benefit costs at the expense of the injured worker. Injuries often go unrecognized and unreported and if employers feel little pressure to address causes of RSI’s – repetitive movements, force, vibration, awkward postures and lifting – little will be changed in the workplace.
The recent announcement from the Ford government that part one of workplace health and safety certification training can be provided online will mean more injury and disease as hazards go unchecked. Online training denies workers from gaining valuable direct knowledge and from personally interacting with health and safety specialists during the certification process. Coupled with the lack of ergonomic regulations in Ontario, the proposed changes will put workers safety at more risk. As a result of not having to send would-be health and safety advocates to in-person health and safety certification training, it is estimated employers will get a five million dollar windfall. Money that surely will NOT be re-invested into the protection of workers.
The organizers of RSI Day will be holding a free and interactive conference proudly hosted by OPSEU at our Toronto Regional Office located at 31 Wellesley Street East (across from the Wellesley subway station). The theme of this year’s event is “Learning from the Past & Fighting for the Future”, where several presenters and guest speakers will give participants a look back at the “Harris” years, the continued struggle for the rights of workers dealing with RSI’s and the focus of the future of health and safety in the province of Ontario while we are under the “Ford” years.
The RSI Awareness Day event is sponsored by: Injured Workers’ Consultants (IWC), Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union (OPSEU), UNIFOR, and the United Food & Commercial Workers (UFCW).
Inquiries can be directed to: Joscelyn Ross, Health and Safety Officer, OPSEU at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other RSI Day events going on around Ontario:
Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) webinar in Sudbury, https://www.ohcow.on.ca/news/rsi-day-2019-webinar.html