Repetitive strain injury cases could increase beyond the workplace

Repetitive strain injury could be on the increase

20.06.2006

Upper limb pain and dysfunction caused by repetitive physical work, commonly known as repetitive strain injury (RSI), is not a new phenomenon and has been well documented for 300 years in jobs such as clerical work. However, from the late 1970s many countries including Australia, Russia, Japan, the US and the UK reported quite dramatic increases in musculoskeletal conditions; this period of time was significant as it saw the widespread replacement of typewriters with computers and a consequent increase in the automation of work.

Many workers spend long periods in a fixed position, performing a range of tasks without moving from their workstation and using only a limited range of movement to operate their keyboard. This trend has continued over the last 2 decades with rapid technological advance and the rise of the service industries, with large numbers of workers spending their working day inputting data onto computers, often at great speed.

Workplace RSI costs UK industry significantly

Musculoskeletal disorders and repetitive strain injury of the upper and lower limbs (RSIs) are a major problem in the workplace and a significant cause of lost production, with an estimated cost to industry in the UK of up to £3bn/year. According to a recent European survey, 45% of workers reported working in painful or tiring positions, while 17% of workers complain of muscular pain in the arms and legs.

Mark Allen, specialist workplace illness and accident lawyer of leading UK law firm Irwin Mitchell, comments: "There is no doubt that, while repetitive strain injury has been reported for a long time, exact prevalence is unclear for a number of reasons including under-reporting and misdiagnosis. The reporting of RSI is restricted to RSI in the workplace ordinarily and with many people, particularly the younger generation embracing technological changes it is likely that RSI through excessive texting for example will increase."

Computer usage impacting stats on repetitive strain injury

In addition, ongoing research in Sweden reveals that around half of those who work with computers have pains in their neck, shoulders, arms or hands. A recent study by Dr Leon Straker at Curtin University of Technology in Australia found that 60 per cent of children suffered discomfort when using laptop computers. In Britain, the Governments recently professed aim was to put a laptop on the desk of every school child. There clearly is a risk to thousands of children unless the problem of RSI is taken seriously.

If you or a loved one has suffered from repetitive strain injuries, such as bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, ulnar neuropathy and vibration white finger caused by conditions at work, our solicitors could help you claim compensation. See our Industrial Disease Claims page for more information.