Many individuals who develop RSI as a result of their employment may accept this as an inevitable part of their work. However, employers have a duty to assess, control and manage foreseeable risks in the workplace.  If they fail to do so and their employees subsequently develop RSI, they may be liable for negligence.

What is Repetitive Strain Injury?

Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a general term used to describe damage to the muscles, tendons, or nerves due to repeated movements or overuse of part of the body. RSI most commonly affects the wrists, hands, arms, elbows and shoulders and it is a recognised work-related upper limb disorder.  Types of RSI include carpal tunnel syndrome, Tendonitis, Tenosynovitis, Bursitis, Tennis elbow, trigger finger/trigger thumb and HAVS/VWF - more about HAVS/VWF here.

Symptoms of RSI include: -

  • Pain which may feel like burning, aching or throbbing
  • Stiffness, joint restriction, and weakness
  • Tingling or numbness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Swelling 
What is Repetitive Strain Injury?

RSI in the workplace

Individuals who are employed in certain industries may be at risk of developing RSI if they are exposed to strenuous work which involves repetitive movements or working in fixed or awkward postures for prolonged periods.

Common occupations prone to be at particular risk include: - 

  • Construction workers - HSE guidance reveals this occupation has the highest estimated prevalence of upper limb disorders in workers. This is because some workers are required to perform tasks which are highly repetitive, often in awkward positions.
  • Assembly line workers
  • Office workers (keyboard users)
  • Factory workers/ production operatives
  • Painters & decorators
  • Food Pickers
  • Hairdressers
  • Cleaning & domestic staff

Employer’s responsibilities in the prevention of RSI

In the majority of cases, if appropriate safety measures were taken by employers, then the development of RSI could have been avoided altogether.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act, Employers have a responsibility to: -

  • Provide adequate training to ensure employees are able to perform their job safely.
  • Carry out risk assessments to determine the likelihood and scale of any risks
  • Warn employees of the potential risks arising from their work
  • Implement controls in order to reduce risks identified in the risk assessment as far as is reasonably practicable.

The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) provides guidance to employers to reduce the risk of RSI, which includes: -

  • Allowing adequate time for the task so employees are not working beyond their natural capacity
  • Rotating tasks amongst workers to avoid the same employees carrying out repetitive tasks
  • Allowing regular breaks to those employees performing repetitive tasks
  • Adjusting workstations to ensure it is set up properly for each individual employee.
  • Providing appropriate tools/equipment for the task. For example, providing power tools instead of manual ones to reduce the number of movements needed
How we can we help

Think you may be suffering from RSI? How Tilly, Bailey & Irvine LLP can help.

If you have developed RSI in the course of your employment and your employer failed to warn you of the associated risks involved in the repetitive nature of your work and take steps to protect you from harm, it may be argued that your employer has breached their duty of care owed to you and you may wish to pursue a claim for compensation.

At Tilly Bailey & Irvine LLP we recognise that RSI can be a debilitating condition that may cause significant pain and stress in day-to-day life.  We will guide and support you throughout the claims process and ensure that all appropriate steps are taken to achieve the best possible outcome.

Contact our specialist team on 01429 225200.

Call: 01429 225200