For every person who wins compensation for repetitive strain injury (RSI) there are another 50 suffering in silence, according to the TUC.
Over 150,000 people each year are suffering RSI but just 3,000 managed to take a successful case last year. The TUC hopes that better preparation will help more sufferers to obtain fair compensation, while also weeding out cases likely to fail. The TUC’s aim is to encourage business to work in partnership with union safety reps on positive prevention programmes and rehabilitation for sufferers, with compensation as the last resort.
According to the TUC, British business loses £1 billion a year through loss of production and skilled workers. Most compensation awards include only £2,500-£7,500 for ‘pain and suffering’ in addition to loss of earnings and the cost of future care.
The workers most at risk are those on small assembly lines – doing rapid packaging or food processing – and those using a keyboards or a mouse – such as typists, journalists and office workers. A third of all workers (around 8 million) say their working conditions require them to repeat the same sequence of movements ‘all the time’ or ‘nearly all the time’.
Owen Tudor, TUC Senior Health & Safety Policy Officer, said: ‘RSI is a very painful and debilitating workplace disease, which can end careers and ruin lives. The number of workers receiving compensation for RSI is just the tip of the iceberg, compared with the number actually suffering.
‘We want to stop the suffering with better prevention and rehabilitation. But where employers fail to provide these solutions, we want to increase the chances of getting fair compensation.’