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August 2007's Health and Safety Message

Is OOS Still On The Loose?

Following on from last month's Health and Safety message about HabitAtWork and the new ACC Discomfort, Pain and Injury Prevention and Management Programme here is a short article about the old outdated term OOS, written by Chris Polaczuk of ACC Workplace Injury Prevention.

stickperson hurt

Is OOS still on the Loose?
Once and for all, ban the use of the term OOS
Do you need an excuse?
Here it is for your exclusive use  (Our apologies for the appalling rhyme)

Just when you thought it was safe again to hammer away all day at your keyboard, you come across a reference or someone encouraging you to avoid the crippling effects of this invisible 'syndrome' - OOS (or Occupational Overuse Syndrome).

comfort keyboard

Whether it's an advert for a keyboard that comes in two parts or an electrical device guaranteed to zap your pain away - we are still reminded of this 'epidemic'.

The origins of OOS in NZ can be traced back to the start of 1990 when the western corporate world was battling with things like RSI (repetitive strain injury), CTD (cumulative trauma disorders), ULD (upper limb disorders) and WRMSD's (work related musculoskeletal disorders) seemingly caused by the innocent use of computers.

It is now safe to say that OOS was a poor title to use for these conditions. The word occupational has many negative connotations, and the disabling implications of the word syndrome are confusing. The term overuse is often a red herring and just one of the contributory factors influencing these kinds of problems.

A more realistic and accurate term for these types of conditions in workplaces is Discomfort, Pain and Injury (DPI).  In this context, discomfort and pain are common, and injury is rare and significantly different from just discomfort or pain.

carpal tunnel syndrome

ACC only compensates for actual injury and this needs to be identified by proper diagnosis. Examples are carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis, tenosynovitis etc.  Note that stating the presence of an 'itis' or inflammation can be highly questionable, and you will find that this can of worms still has its lid missing.

While we should always aim to prevent these conditions, they can occur independently of our influences, so we've got to place an equal emphasis on the management of these problems.  Our evidence shows that better outcomes happen when workers experiencing discomfort or pain stay in the workplace in the first instance.  That's where another new term 'Stay at Work' (SAW) as opposed to 'Return to Work' (RTW) comes into play.

But before we give you yet another three initialled acronym for your health and safety vocabulary, let's stop using the term 'OOS', and call Discomfort Pain and Injury by their proper names.

For further information go to: http://www.acc.co.nz/injury-prevention/discomfort-pain-and-injury/index.htm?ref=4

Archived Health Tips

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