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Summer Conditions Pose Danger to Summer Workers

Media Release
Monday December 10 2007

Summer Conditions Pose Danger to Summer Workers

New Zealanders working in hospitality and retail through the busy summer holiday period are reminded to beware of developing discomfort, pain and injury (DPI).

DPI (previously known as OOS or RSI) covers a range of problems including simple back pain, strains and sprains. Chris Polaczuk, ACC’s Programme Manager for the Discomfort, Pain and Injury programme, said that at this time of year hospitality and retail workers are particularly at risk.

“With fewer people at work over the busy summer period, many employees will have to work longer hours with fewer breaks,” said Mr Polaczuk. “The way we organise our shifts and rosters now will affect our risk of discomfort, pain and injury becoming a problem.”

DPI usually develops from a combination of factors carrying out repetitive tasks, working in awkward positions or in an uncomfortable environment. Workers, such as casual or seasonal workers, who aren’t used to carrying out certain jobs, can be more at risk.

Often DPI occurs without any obvious trauma. “DPI is usually the result of a combination of factors, rather than one single event,” said Mr Polaczuk. “The good news is that if it’s attended to early it will almost always be short-term.”

Workers in the hospitality and retail sectors can help prevent DPI by regularly changing positions, staying fit and healthy, alternating and rotating tasks, stretching and having short, frequent breaks.

“Employers and employees have a joint responsibility to prevent and manage DPI in the workplace. Therefore, everyone needs to be aware of the elevated risk at this busy time of year.

“While many people believe that rest can cure DPI problems like back pain, the reverse is true. ACC is now encouraging everyone to keep active and working as an essential ingredient for preventing and managing DPI,” said Chris Polaczuk.


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