Repetitive Strain Injury - How to Claim against Your Employer

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If you have Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) and believe it has been caused by your job, you may be entitled to make an Industrial Disease claim against your employer.

To make a successful claim for compensation, we must show that the RSI condition has been caused or made worse by your work, and that your employer breached their duty of care towards you.

For free legal advice get in touch with our Industrial Disease Solicitors. We may be able to deal with your RSI claim on a No Win, No Fee basis – ask us for details.

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What is Repetitive Strain Injury?

Repetitive Strain Injury is a term that describes pain experienced in the muscles, tendons or nerves. It can be hugely debilitating and is mainly associated with overuse.

How Can You Get RSI from Work?

There are many circumstances that could lead to a person developing Repetitive Strain Injury at work, including:

  • Repeating an action for an extended period of time without adequate breaks or rotation of your job role
  • Awkward working or seating positions that require overstretching and leaning forward, incorrect chair, desk or bench heights. We’ve seen many cases of RSI involving the use of computers, using keyboards and/or a mouse over prolonged periods of time
  • Having to apply force or pressure to a workpiece or constantly twisting or turning items with the hands.

Problems are often experienced on production lines where workers are paid piecemeal, the pace of the work may be excessive and there may be inadequate provision or no provision to slow this down.

UK Employers are required under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 to undertake an assessment of the risks of developing Repetitive Strain Injury and should take steps to prevent the risks identified by, for example, changing the way the work is undertaken, or allowing employee’s working on computers to take regular breaks away from their desks or work stations.

If you believe this didn’t happen and you can present evidence to back up your argument, you may have a valid claim for compensation.

When to Seek Legal Advice

If you are suffering from work-related RSI you should contact us as soon as possible so that an Industrial Disease Solicitor can provide a free initial assessment of your situation.

The time period in which Court proceedings need to be started is 3 years from the date you knew or ought to have known that you were suffering from a “significant injury”, and you are linking this to the work you’ve undertaken for an identified employer.

The term “significant injury” has been open to interpretation by the English Courts, but essentially, if your symptoms have been getting worse and you’ve sought treatment from your doctor, think it is related to your work and a diagnosis has been made, we’d recommend that you seek our legal advice right away.

You should also report any RSI symptoms to your employer, who should take active steps to assess your working environment and make any changes as necessary.

More Information on Repetitive Strain Injury

Repetitive Strain is often associated with the upper limbs and there are a range of conditions which may result. These include:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – which results in a pins and needles sensation in the wrists or fingers and often requires surgery known as a carpal tunnel release
  • Rotator Cuff Syndrome – the rotator cuff is a tendon at the top of the shoulder which can become inflamed or even torn
  • Bursitis – which is again an inflammation and usually results in a fluid sac which can form near a joint
  • Epicondylitis – which is an inflammation often around the elbow.

The onset of RSI symptoms can be gradual. Some RSI conditions can be constitutional due to ordinary wear and tear and aren’t necessarily caused by your work. So your claim for compensation will be fact dependant and it’s important that detailed evidence is provided as to the work you’re required to do, over how many hours, over what period of time, how many breaks are given, exactly how you go about doing your job and identify when RSI symptoms were first experienced.

Our Industrial Disease Solicitors can obtain a medical report from a Specialist Consultant, who will be asked to comment on whether on the balance of probabilities (is it more likely than not) that your RSI condition has been caused by work.

Repetitive Strain Injuries aren’t limited to the upper limbs but can also involve injury to the neck, shoulder and/or back from repetitive bending or similar. Repetitive Strain Injury claims can be complex as many individuals will have pre-existing degenerative changes in their spine; which can be shown in an MRI scan and from which they may not have previously suffered any RSI symptoms.

This doesn’t mean that a claim can’t be made as repetitive work can exacerbate a pre-existing hand, wrist, back or neck problem. If this applies, then medical evidence will be obtained to determine to what extent a pre-existing condition has been made worse.

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