Lid Lifted on Working Conditions after 'Calais Shoulder' Injury Claims


You may have recently heard about the condition colloquially called 'Calais shoulder', or read about it in the papers. The colloquial term refers to a repetitive strain injury (RSI) caused by the unusual working conditions that many UK Border Force staff find themselves in. We have successfully claimed compensation for members of the Immigration Services Union against the Home Office.

Calais shoulder

What Is Calais Shoulder?

Calais shoulder is an everyday term for a repetitive strain injury caused by the leaning motions involved in checking passports on the border at Calais. In their job role, Border Force staff must lean out of a window to collect the passport, enter information into a laptop, and then return the passport. This was often done non-stop, on busy borders, and with few proper breaks.

"This situation has gone on for a long time and been ignored. With successive cuts in staffing levels by governments, the pressure on the workers and the workload has increased greatly." Comments Michelle Rhodes, the Chartered Legal Executive from Simpson Millar LLP who took on the cases.

"Officers have been forced to work in sub-standard conditions for hours on end doing repetitive tasks leading to damage to their arms and shoulders."

The particular area of the shoulder often affected is called the 'rotator cuff'. This muscle is particularly vulnerable, yet also very precious. It's job is to stabilise the shoulder as it is moved around.

I Lean on a Desk, Surely This Is a Joke?

Peoples working conditions can often be very different, and the same actions won't necessarily cause RSI in both people.

"Poor work equipment, such as chairs which do not alter in height, high windows and even the height and posture of the staff working on a particular workstation are all things that the employer needs to take into account when assessing the suitability of a workstation. None of these were adequately undertaken in the present cases" states Michelle.

Lucy Moreton of the Immigration Services Union, pointed out on BBC Radio 5 Live that they had spoken out about issues with the booths when they were first being implemented, yet their concerns went unheeded. The very design of their workplace was unsuitable.

Could I Have Calais Shoulder?

If you've worked in a port booth and now you're left with limited upper body mobility, or pain, speak to our legal helpline today, or submit your question through our enquiry box on the right.

You don't have to have to be a tennis player to have tennis elbow, and it's the same with Calais shoulder. It is possible that you could have had your shoulders and arms damaged by your working conditions in any kind of similar role, like working in a petrol station booth that isn't fit for purpose.

News Archive

Get In Touch