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Mobile working blamed for rising RSI complaints

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Repetitive strain injury (RSI) cases have soared by more than 30% in the last year, at a cost to business of over £300 million.

This is according to official research released by Microsoft, which links the rise to increased use of mobile working with office-based employees now working on the move for an average of an hour more per day than they did two years ago, using laptops and mobile devices.

A total 68% of office workers suffered from aches and pains, with the most common symptoms including back ache, shoulder pain and wrist/hand pain as a result of working whilst in transit in cramped or awkward positions. The research found that those working for smaller companies are most at risk.

According to Microsoft, awareness is part of the problem. The survey found that 76% of HR managers are not aware of the high risk of RSI themselves, whilst 68% did nothing when employees reported problems.

Technology is also to blame. Less than half of UK workplaces have an ergonomic hardware programme in place and nearly a quarter of workers are not aware if their company even has one.

John Allen, managing consultant at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: "We are shocked that this research indicates that the number of office injuries is on the increase due to companies not taking the right actions in investing in their staff's well being. This issue needs to be addressed and companies should start assessing the risks and investing in ergonomic solutions where they are needed."

Sophie Barnave-Gaffney, from Microsoft, added that there is an enormous lack of understanding about the need for ergonomics within the work environment. "Microsoft has recognised that companies and employees can benefit enormously by implementing a few simple and cost-effective measures. This is why we are putting such a focus on ergonomic hardware, in particular mice and keyboards, to reduce the number of work-related injuries."

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Annie Hayes

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