Calais Shoulder - What It Means for You

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We have recently commented on the occurrence of repetitive strain injury among UK Border Force staff. The colloquial term for these injuries is 'Calais shoulder'. The injuries were caused by the repetitive tasks staff were required to carry out in their booths. Even if you're not working in a booth in Calais, there are several points you can take home from their injuries.

Shoulder Injuries

Desk Ergonomics


How your desk is arranged can influence your health. Among UK Border Force staff, we saw that on a day to day basis they were moving from sitting at their laptop, to reaching over to a high window to interact with those wishing to enter into the country. They would then return to their laptop and then to the window again a second time, for each vehicle passing through.

While this isn't exactly replicated in an office job it shares similarities with staff who work at the drive-thru at fast food restaurants, and those who do night shifts at a petrol station.

Display Screen Equipment Regulations


It may sound like health and safety gone mad, but sometimes, the biggest dangers are right in front of you every day. Just like many don't realise that being in a car is more dangerous than being on a plane, being at your desk can be just as dangerous as moving around.

Here are some points from the Health and Safety Executive, on you and your working environment:

  • Forearms should be roughly horizontal
  • Your eyes should be the same height as the top of the screen
  • Avoid excess pressure being put on the backs of legs and knees by the edge of the seat, a footrest may help with this
  • Stretch and change position from time to time
  • Desks should be adjusted to ensure that physical repetitive tasks are minimised
  • Short, frequent breaks are better than long, infrequent ones
  • You have the right to have your employer pay for an eye test – if this test states you need glasses for display screen equipment work, they must pay for a basic pair of frames and lenses

There are many similarities that can be seen between the border staff we've represented, and anyone who works at a desk. As long as the display screen equipment regulations are followed, chances are, you'll be safe at your desk.

Hopefully, these tips will help prevent injuries of the severity we saw in border staff.


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