What should I do if I’ve suffered repetitive strain injury at work?
Repetitive strain injury (or RSI) is an umbrella term for increasingly common injuries brought about by prolonged and repeated movement. Initial symptoms may only initially appear while a certain action is being carried but may include: aching, soreness or pain; stiffness; cramp; weakness; throbbing or numbness.
Symptoms usually start mildly but, if left unchecked, can gradually develop into severe, potentially constant pain and long-term health issues.
What causes RSI?
Repetitive strain injury is usually caused by damage to tendons due to prolonged over-use. Poor posture, often related to inadequate working conditions, can also exacerbate tendon damage, leading to RSI. Other contributory factors include cold temperatures, often encountered from working outside, as well as regular contact with vibrating machinery.
Who is at risk?
Anyone who carries out repetitive movements is potentially at risk from contracting RSI. Office workers who spend long periods of time tapping at computer keyboards often get RSI in their fingers and wrists. Factory workers who spend hours of every day assembling items or carrying out repetitive duties often contract RSI as a result of their work. Construction workers who work outside in cold temperatures, often with vibrating machinery such as drills are also at risk.
What to do if you think you might have RSI
The first step should always be to visit your doctor or G.P., who will be able to tell you what steps you need to take to stop your condition worsening. They will also let you know what you employer is obligated to do.
Your employer’s duty
Your employer has a duty to safeguard your wellbeing, to put procedures in place to mitigate personal injury and to make reasonable adjustments should you become injured at work.
If you believe that your workplace has exposed you to repetitive strain injury, you should inform your trade union and contact solicitors who may be able to ensure you are compensated for your injury and any potential lost earnings perhaps through a “no win no fee arrangement”.