Repetitive Strain Injury Claims
What is a Repetitive Strain Injury?
RSIs or Repetitive Strain Injuries are injuries to the musculoskeletal and nervous systems. These may be caused by repetitive tasks, forceful exertions, vibrations, mechanical compression (pressing against hard surfaces), or poor positions and posture for prolonged periods. Some RSIs are also known as: cumulative trauma disorder, repetitive stress injuries, repetitive motion injuries or disorders, and occupational overuse syndromes.
Repetitive strain injuries
caused by occupational overuse
are now accommodated by the broader collection of disorders known as Work Related Upper Limb Disorders
, or WRULDs.
RSI is a syndrome that can include other conditions that are associated with activity-related arm pain. This can include: edema
, carpal tunnel syndrome
, golfer'r or tennis elbow, cubital tunnel syndrome
, thoracic outlet syndrome
, DeQuervain's syndrome
, stenosing tenosynovitis
, intersection syndrome
, golfer's elbow or medial epicondylitis
, tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis
, reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome
(RSDS), thoracic outlet syndrome
, radial tunnel syndrome
, and focal dystonia
Where someone falls victim to a repetitive strain injury as a result of their work, it may be because their employer has been negligent in their duty to provide a safe workspace for their employees. Jobs that involve excessive typing and computer use are commonly associated with RSIs, particularly carpal tunnel syndrome. Some reports suggest that the implementation of more ergonomic equipment and supports, can help reduce symptoms or prevent the onset of injury.
Common symptoms include short bursts of excruciating pain in the arm, back, shoulders, wrists, hands, or thumbs. The pain often gets worse with activity and it can also present with weakness and a lack of endurance.
What Causes RSI?
There are a variety of ways in which repetitive activity can affect the body, causing RSI. Incorrect posture while sitting down for extended periods can be a contributing factor, whilst improper tool use, typing and heavy lifting can all play a part. The individuals at the greatest risk are those who have to carry out the same movements and activities as part of their job every day.
Professions that are commonly affected by RSIs include:
- Assembly line work
- Food preparation
- Use of tools (especially hand tools or tools that vibrate)
- Writing and typing
Anyone whose occupation involves excessive, repetitive and forced activity should be mindful of how long they spend performing these tasks and they should remember to take regular breaks.
Symptoms caused by repetitive strain injuries
will vary depending upon the affected limbs and tissues. In the majority of cases, the victim will experience short bursts of excruciating pain
when trying to perform a normal, repetitive task. In typists or copywriters, this may affect the wrists, hands and forearms
. For those who do a lot of manual handling
, they may experience these symptoms throughout their arms, shoulders, neck and back
Aside from pain, it is quite common for sufferers of RSI injuries to also experience weakness in the affected limb as well as a lack of endurance; so reduced grip strength can also occur. Loss of sensation and numbness can also occur.
For anyone that suffers from an occupational RSI, it can be stressful and frustrating. It can have severe implications for their work and career, and it can also make their day-to-day lives both painful and miserable. So if you feel that you might be affected by a repetitive strain injury after seeing the symptoms, you should speak to a GP immediately and begin making a claim for RSI compensation.
Occupational RSI Diagnosis
RSI Symptoms can often be non-specific. Often, a GP will work to rule out other more well defined conditions before arriving at an RSI diagnosis. In coming to this conclusion they will examine a number of areas.
These can include:
- Discussing medical and work history, exploring repetitive activities
- Symptoms presenting in the hands, arms or upper body
- Whether symptoms are aggravated by repetitive tasks
- Effort-based tests such as grip and pinch strength
- Diagnostic tests such as Finkelstein's test for Dequervain's tendinitis, Phalen's Contortion
- Tinel's Percussion for carpal tunnel syndrome
- Nerve conduction velocity tests that show nerve compression in the wrist.
- Various imaging techniques can also be used to show nerve compression such as x-ray for the wrist
- MRI for the thoracic outlet and cervico-brachial areas
Occupational RSI Treatment
In the majority of early stage RSI cases, anti-inflammatory medications combined with passive forms of physical therapy will be prescribed. A lot of rest will be recommended, whilst splinting and massage may also be suggested. Low-grade RSIs can occasionally resolve themselves if caught early. There are some RSIs however that may require more aggressive intervention including surgery. The affects and symptoms of these can persist for years.
A good exercise regime has been shown to minimise the risk of developing an RSI. So Doctors have been known to recommend that RSI sufferers engage in specific strengthening exercises.
Preventing further injury and the exacerbation of symptoms is a key tenet in aiding recovery. Understanding the causes of RSI can help you to avoid future injury. Where your RSI was caused by work, preventative measures should be instated to prevent further injury and to protect other members of staff. There should already be protective methods in force, but where an employer fails in their duty to protect staff, further protective measures will be required.
RSI Compensation Claims
Employers have a legal duty under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to prevent work-related RSIs, and to stop any existing cases from getting worse.
Where your employer has been negligent in their responsibility to protect you, where you have suffered as a result, they may be liable to pay compensation. It is important for employers to thoroughly assess workplace risks to identify problem areas. Where possible risks arise, your employer should alter the workspace to minimise these risks, or provide additional equipment and training to protect you.
Where employers do not respond to requests for better suited equipment, or where they make no effort to accommodate RSI conditions, they increase the odds of staff contracting an RSI or making them worse. These actions can have disastrous, long term effects upon the health and well-being of staff which can affect their work performance and general job satisfaction.
Occupational repetitive strain injuries can be incredibly frustrating, particularly as the symptoms are non-specific. So you may even suffer from these symptoms without having been given an official RSI diagnosis. If you work within a role that necessitates the completion of prolonged, repetitive tasks it can negatively affect your job performance, whilst reducing the quality of your everyday life. Some symptoms will resolve themselves but many will last for years and can be debilitating.
If you think that you may be affected by a work induced RSI then you should speak with a specialist occupational illness solicitor so that they can begin compiling your case. If you instruct Asons solicitors to handle your RSI compensation, we will collate all of the required evidence and medical proof to substantiate your claim whilst providing expert support and advice throughout the process; saving you from all the hard work.
We've dealt with a variety of RSI claims in the past and so we understand how difficult it can be for sufferers to take this important and decisive step.
I Think I May be Affected, What Should I Do?
If you have fallen victim to occupational RSI as a result of working with your current employer, you should contact us. We can refer you to a specialist who can diagnose you and document the extent of your RSI for our records. You should then speak to your employer to ensure that your role has been made safe enough for you to continue working. A review of your role and workspace should be completed to identify any issues or problem areas so that new equipment can be offered to prevent further exposure.
Where Else Can I Find Help and Advice?
The Health & Safety Executive
(HSE) provides plenty of helpful information for both employers and victims of work related RSI
. It provides brochures
and printed material
for use in the work place as well as guides and checklists
for ensuring employee safety. You may also find useful information at RSI.org
How Can Asons Solicitors help?
We understand that being diagnosed with occupational RSI can be stressful, and that the resulting time off work and loss of income can be frustrating. No one knows this better than our expert occupational illness solicitors. By speaking to us, you will be guaranteed to receive the utmost care and attention whilst we deal with your repetitive strain injury claim.
To begin making a claim, you can contact our occupational illness helpline on 01204 521 133 or alternatively, you can fill out our rsi compensation form to your right.