Home Office Liable for Immigration Officer's RSI


An immigration officer employed by the Home Office has won compensation for a repetitive strain injury (RSI) sustained at work.

Immigration Border Control

The 42 year-old, who had been working for the government department since February 2001 and took on the immigration officer role in 2004, was stationed at Calais and, later, at Dunkirk.

Repetitive Nature of Work

The nature of the official's work meant she was daily confined to a small booth, where she collected and examined visiting and departing drivers' passports. This was a highly repetitive exercise, involving checking, scanning and handing back many passports per day over a period of years.

Emma Ginley of Simpson Millar LLP, said that the official suffered a repetitive soft tissue injury to her right shoulder as a result of the repetition of movements in the right arm and shoulder, resulting in the development of 'painful arc syndrome'.

Surgery Needed

"The officer ultimately underwent decompression surgery to her right shoulder in October 2011, after which she developed a mild frozen shoulder leading to a prolonged recovery," Emma said. "She has been left with healed surgical scars each about half-an-inch in length.

"The fact that the officer was doing exactly the same work for so long was certainly relevant to the condition that developed. For some time after her activities were severely restricted."

Responsibility Denied, then Proven

The Home Office did not accept responsibility and no appropriate risk assessments were conducted. "However, an ergonomic report was obtained," concluded Emma, "and found to be supportive once they had acknowledged the facts of the matter: that the officer was obliged to work in the HO's immigration booths for long periods of time without break."

Our client was awarded a compensation settlement of £20,000.

Top Tips to Take Away:

  • Many office and clerical workers suffer repetitive strain injury due to the prolonged and unchanging ways in which they have to work
  • Many immigration officers might not be aware that they may have developed similar injuries or ‘Calais shoulder’
  • If you think that the repetitive nature of your employment might have caused RSI (you could have a persistent ache in your elbow or shoulder, for example) see your doctor without delay – and contact Simpson Millar LLP to see if you can make a claim

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