Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

February 27, 2009 10:33 ET

Media Release-OPSEU-The Cost of Repetitive Strain Injuries in Ontario: $380 Million and Three Million Lost Work Days Over Eight Years

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Feb. 27, 2009) -

Attention: Assignment Editors; Workplace and Health editors, reporters and producers.

As injured workers and labour groups in Ontario today mark International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day they are calling on Queen's Park to introduce ergonomic regulations to force employers to introduce workplace prevention measures.

"In Ontario the only thing that changes from year-to-year is the increasing number of workers who are afflicted with RSI," said Catherine Fenech, a Toronto-area member of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union and health and safety activist who founded RSI Day 10 years ago.

"What remains the same is our provincial government's inaction in the face of a physical illness that affects one in 10 workers. In fact, many of these injuries go unreported so actual numbers are greater than WSIB statistics," she added.

"It is totally unacceptable that it's the injured workers themselves who suffer the brunt of the hardship and poverty that the costs of these debilitating injuries create."

To add weight to the seriousness of the problem the City of Toronto has proclaimed Feb. 27 Repetitive Stress Injury Awareness Day.

The RSI committee estimates that between 1996 and 2004 Ontario averaged 42,500 lost time claims per year which translates into three million lost work days during that period. In turn that amounted to an economic loss to the province of $380 million.

With the province facing tough economic times Ontario can hardly afford to lose this kind of economic activity. By introducing ergonomic regulations the province can at the least begin to slow down the economic losses it is experiencing.

As on previous anniversaries of RSI Awareness Day, Fenech's group is calling on Queen's Park to introduce legislation to deal with this serious issue.

"British Columbia and Saskatchewan have ergonomic regulations to protect workers from these injuries. The federal government also provides specific protection for its employees from ergonomic hazards. Yet in Ontario there is no legislation that specifically targets the largest groups of occupational injury claims," said Fenech.

Between April 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008 only 4.5 per cent of MoL field visits had an ergonomic component. And of those visits (4,554), orders were only written in 10 per cent of those cases. Put another way, only 494 Ministry orders of a total of 176, 669 in 2007-08 were based on ergonomics.

"Enacting ergonomic regulations in Ontario would help step-up Ministry of Labour enforcement to prevent these crippling injuries," said Fenech.

RSI workshops featuring injured workers, health and safety professionals, public policy experts and labour groups are being held today at the following locations:

Toronto: 31 Wellesley St. E., 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Windsor: Fogolar Furlan Club, 1800 North Service Road E., 9:00 to 4:00 p.m.

Sudbury: OHCOW Clinic, 84 Cedar St., 2nd Floor, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Contact Information

  • Toronto RSI Committee
    Catherine Fenech
    Chair
    Cell: (416) 333-9428
    or
    OPSEU Communications
    Greg Hamara
    Cell: (647) 238-9933