Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is also known as work-related upper limb disorder. The term refers to the pain that individuals experience in their nerves, tendons and muscles and which are the result of repetitive movements or overuse. The most common parts of the body to be affected by RSI are the neck, shoulders, elbow, wrist and forearm. In addition to pain, the sufferer may also experience stiffness and swelling.
RSI injuries are divided into two types. Type 1 RSI can be diagnosed by a doctor from the individual’s symptoms and is the result of a recognised medical condition. It is generally characterised by inflammation and swelling of the tendons or muscles. Examples of type 1 RSI are carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis and bursitis.
Type 2 RSI cannot be diagnosed by a doctor from the individual’s symptoms. The problem with diagnosing type 2 RSI is that the individual generally does not have any obvious symptoms apart from the pain that they suffer. Type 2 RSI is commonly known as non-specific pain syndrome.
The most common cause of RSI is carrying out a repetitive activity for a long period of time. People that work at computers, for example, or have to repeat manual tasks many times, can suffer from RSI. In the UK around one worker in every 50 will report an RSI condition.
Factors which may increase the risk of RSI are using vibrating equipment, stress, cold temperatures, poor posture or activities which require the individual to assume an awkward posture, lifting heavy objects and repeating an activity or performing an activity for a long time without a rest.
Employers have a duty to carry out workplace assessments in which they should check that their employees are comfortable and that their work conditions do not increase the risk of RSI. An individual who suffers from RSI and believes that the condition was caused by their working environment may be able to claim for compensation. Guidance on the issue of RSI has been available to employers since 1990, so there is no reason why an employer should not take the issue of RSI seriously and take action to minimise the risk to their employees.
RSI can be a serious condition with a significant negative impact on an individual’s life, and anyone who believes that they suffer from occupational RSI should seek expert help. The first step would be to contact a firm that deals with such cases. The firm should be able to put you in contact with a specialist who will be able to assess the extent of the condition and they will also be able to help you to collect all the information that you will need to prove your case.
To make an RSI claim, you must be able to prove that your employer was not only aware of the risks to which you were exposed, but that he or she did not take measures to prevent the injury from happening or to reduce the risk. At Accident Advice Helpline we can provide sympathetic and helpful advice and we will help you to decide if you have a claim and how you should proceed with that claim.
Date Published: October 2, 2013
Author: David Brown