Repetitive work refers to work that involves performing the same simple operation over and over. Repetitive work is made up of operations that are similar in length, the amount of strength required or the physical action involved. Repetitive work is usually defined as any task in which each operation takes less than 30 seconds to perform or involves repeating the same actions more than half of the time, regardless of the length of the operation.
Repetitive work occurs most often in the industrial sector, construction, agriculture and the service sector.
Repetitive work can cause various kinds of upper limb pain and strain injuries. Strain injuries usually affect either the wrist or the elbow. Examples of these kinds of strain injuries include tenosynovitis in the wrist, epicondylitis (tennis elbow) and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Strain injuries and disorders are often caused by a combination of several factors. Factors contributing to the strain caused by repetitive work include
- the number of times that an action needs to be repeated
- the length of the operation
- the need to use force
- grip (e.g. stretching or pinching)
- twisting of the wrist
- mechanical strain on the hand
- cold and vibration, and
- personal traits (such as age, gender, build or inexperience).