Though RSI is commonly perceived to be a recent phenomenon, it is certainly not confined to computer users. In fact most industrial and manufacturing activities throughout the ages, which have involved any form of repetitive movement, have had their own overuse syndromes. Soft tissue injuries to muscles, tendons and nerves in the hand, arms, neck and shoulders are known by a variety of names. Tenosynovitis, for example, is a recognised industrial injury for occupations involving frequent or repeated movements of the hand or wrist.
Production line workers may face the following risk factors which can contribute to the development of RSI; repetitive actions, gripping and twisting movements and the use of vibrating equipment. Insufficient rest breaks may increase the risk, for example, to those on an assembly line paced by machine. Awkward postures, arms outstretched or above the head, put joints and muscles under further pressure. Conveyors designed to suit men may not take account of the fact that some operators are women of a smaller stature or strength.
Electronics, white goods and car-assembly workers are particular risk occupations identified by the studies of Hagberg, Silverstein et al in their reference book on Work related musculoskeletal disorders (1995,Taylor & Francis).