See HERE for the Employer’s duties.
At least 120 people of a staff of 340 in the Financial Times reported possible Repetitive Strain Injury symptoms Over a two and a half year period. The injury is one of the most common of those listed in the reports of the Health and Safety Authority . The UK experience confirms this too.
The condition is also sometimes referred to as Occupation Overuse Syndrome. It involves inflammation of the muscles, tendons and nerves of some part of the body. The parts usually affected are the hand and upper limbs generally, but the foot or leg may also suffer. The Health and Safety Executive in the United Kingdom proposed a name change to “work related upper limb disorder” on the grounds that it does not always involve repetition or strain, or result in a visible injury. The condition is on the increase in Ireland.
As the name suggests the damage arises from the a particular pattern of use of certain muscles. This may be a repetitive use or constant load on the muscle. “Tennis elbow” is a classic example of such overuse. Any single movement of the limb may be within the capacity of the body but not when the movement is multiplied by a considerable factor. In short, quantitive demands may be made of the human body which it is unable to meet without suffering injury. It has been calculalated that assembly workers may repeat the same movement 25,000 times a day. The injury may be diagnosed as: Synovitis, Bursitis, Tenosynovitis, Tendinitis, Peritendinitis, Epicondylitis or even Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Inflammation occurs in an attempt by the body to deal with a build up of waste products in the affected area. The accompanying swelling affects the nearby nerves and other tissue. Symptoms vary, ranging over one or more of: Pain, Tingling, Numbness, Swelling, Crepitus, Disability, Loss of function. If treated early, the pain is alleviated by eliminating the work causing the problem. If treatment is not commenced, the pain continues after work and any use of the limb cause pain. The swelling and numbness lead to a loss of function which can become permanent. The occupations at risk feature one or more of the following; frequent repetition of movement; forceful movement; fixed posture; fast work pace; excess work load; uneven work load; insufficient breaks; noise; draughts.
Workers affected include typists or VDU operators; assemblyworkers; sorters; production workers; machinists.
Implicated industries include; Electronics; Banking; Domestic appliance manufacture; Office work; Poultry packing and processing; Manual sewing in clothing and carpet manufacture; Biscuit manufacture; Cigarette manufacture; Sport goods manufacture; Building cleaning with heavy scrubbing or polishing machines.
“De-skilling” should be seen as likely to introduce conditions causing, or contributing to, the injury. Management proposals of this kind tend to be associated with lack of consultation. This indicates poor communication in both directions between management and workers. If the worker does not or cannot report symptoms to management the injury may become irreversible. For legal reasons, complaints should be promptly made to management even if they are ignored. The cost of the injury may be considerable, not only to the employee but to the employer; if it leads to the loss of occupation the earnings differential may be considerable. The British Inland Revenue settled the case of three computer data clerks for a total of £107,5006 As the compensation for personal injury in Britain is relatively low, most of this would have been loss of earnings.
Ramazzini noted the symptoms in his book “Treatise of the Diseases of Tradesmen” in 1705.
In modem times it has been well described since at least the beginning of the ’60s.
In Pepall & Ors. V Thorn Consumers Electronics Ltd. QBD 1985. Mr. J. Woolf said: “Where the defendants did fall down on the duty which they owed to their employees to exercise reasonable care for their safety in general, was because the steps which ought to have been taken to combat the risk of tenosynovitis required a relatively sophisticated programme of educating and warning employees…. The problems needed consideration and implementation bt management at a high level��?