Employment & legal
Employment and legal aspects of repetitive strain injuries

Repetitive strain injuries are amongst the most common injuries sustained at work and it is a recognised problem amongst a global workforce. In the UK alone, the TUC have stated that 500,000 workers in the UK have reported a repetitive strain injury with a collective loss of 5.4 million working days lost due to sick leave in one year and approximately 6 workers will leave their job daily due to an insurmountable repetitive strain injury. Conservative estimates state that the cost to UK industry is between 5 billion - 10 billion annually.

The good news is that employers in the UK are legally obliged to prevent incidents of repetitive strain injury where reasonably possible via the Safety Act of 1974 and the Safety at Work Regulations, 1999. If you are concerned about a lack of awareness about RSI conditions at your employer you may wish to contact your companies' occupational health adviser and they should be able to help make the workplace a more ergonomically sound environment. It is certainly in the best interests of employers to maintain a workplace where RSI complaints are low because it can affect productivity drastically. If employers were to focus on the eradication of RSI in the workplace they could enjoy the following benefits from their workforce -

  • Eradication of the need to pay for sick payments or early retirement costs due to RSI's
  • Fewer sick days taken which will boost productivity
  • A happier workforce
  • A lack of negative publicity
  • Fewer lawsuits regarding RSI compensation

On the other hand, an employer could expect to pay higher insurance premiums, however, these costs would likely be offset by the increase in productivity from the staff.

RSI Compensation in the courts

If you are in the unfortunate situation where you believe that you have suffered a repetitive strain injury as a direct result of your occupation, you may wish to consider taking your employer to court with a view to seeking financial compensation for RSI treatment, loss of earnings, etc. As a first step you could visit a site such as workplaceinjury.org which will inform you of your options and provide you with information on how to progress a repetitive strain injury claim against your employer.

Such court cases have proven to be increasingly lucrative for complainants. A case in August 2007 in the UK led to a former RAF data input clerk, in her 20's, suing the Ministry of Defence for a repetitive strain injury claim that affected her thumb, which led to her being unable to continue full time employment in her position. The individual was found to be suffering from De Quervain's and was awarded compensation of GB 484,000.

Further examples of case studies whereby patients have actually received medical treatment, but it was deemed to be negligent can be found on the Medical Negligence Claim website.

These types of successful court cases are becoming more commonplace even though there is a branch of the medical profession that choose to dismiss repetitive strain syndrome as largely a psychosomatic condition. If you have a genuine RSI condition caused by work that it preventing you from doing your job properly, you should not be perturbed from making a claim against your employer and there are numerous law firms that are willing to take on RSI type cases on a no win no fee basis.