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Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)

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What is Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)?

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This serves as a convenient umbrella term for examining a number of different medical conditions. Another term associated with these type of injuries is work-related upper limb disorder (WRULD).

The condition mainly affects parts of the upper body, such as the:

  • Forearm and elbows
  • Wrists and hands
  • Neck and shoulder

Repetitive Strain Injury

 

What Types of RSI Can You Get?

There are broadly two types of RSI that you can get:

Type 1  RSI – A musculoskeletal disorder with clear visible symptoms, including swelling and inflammation of muscles and/or tendons. Type 1 RSI will generally lead to a diagnosis.

Conditions which are generally classified as Type 1 RSI are:

  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – Compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel which is in the wrist. Causes pins and needles, numbness and weakness.
  • Tendonitis – Inflammation of the tendons.
  • Tenosynovitis – Inflammation in the sheath around the tendons.
  • Epicondylitis – Pain and swelling where the muscle joins the bone at the elbow. This is often referred to as tennis elbow.
  • Rotator Cuff Syndrome – Inflamed tendons and muscles in the shoulder.

 Type 2 RSI

This is also known as diffuse RSI or non-specific pain syndrome. It could be related to certain work activities and possibly related to nerve damage. Type 2 RSI usually doesn’t demonstrate physical signs of injury, thus it can be difficult to diagnose.

What Are The Common Industries That Put You At Risk?

Basically, any task where you have to undertake repetitive tasks/movement of the upper limbs can put you at risk of an injury. Some of the different industries that could put you at risk are:

  • Assembly line workers.
  • Cleaners.
  • Construction workers.
  • Textile workers.

What are the Symptoms of RSI?

The symptoms generally associated with RSI often include:

  • Pain, aching or tenderness.
  • Stiffness.
  • Throbbing.
  • Tingling or numbness.
  • Weakness.
  • Cramp.

At first, you might only notice symptoms when you are carrying out a work activity. But without treatment, this can become constant and cause a long period of pain.

Production Line

 

Is The Injury Due To A Work Task?

Medical causation is likely to be the most significant issue in these cases. The fact that symptoms are experienced when at work does not mean they are as a result of work, they could be due to other constitutional reasons. Even if the work task is not the underlying cause, it may have aggravated and worsened a problem that otherwise would not have been as bad.

Generally, to be work-related there must be a ‘trigger’. This trigger can be a change in work patterns and work systems, increase in rates produced, or extra overtime. If a problem develops within around six months of a ‘trigger’ event it could be associated with that work activity.

If there have been no alterations to your work pattern/work station and you have been doing the same job for many years before any problems, it is unlikely that an expert would associate the issues with your work. You must think hard about this, as the slightest change in your work pattern can cause the ‘trigger’ that could be the cause of the problems.

What Is The Duty Of My Employer To Protect Me From Developing RSI?

Your employer has general common law duties under common law to ensure you have a safe place of work, safe plant or machinery and a safe system of work. If the Defendants breach these duties, there will be a claim in negligence against them.

A breach of these common law duties can be shown/proven, but identifying breaches in statutory requirements the Defendants have to comply with. Some of these are as follows:

1974 Health and Safety Act

  • Every employer has a duty so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure the safety and welfare of employees.

Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations ’99

  • Duty to undertake an adequate risk assessment (Reg. 3).
  • The requirement to undertake health surveillance (Reg. 6).

Provision and Use of Work Equipment

  • Ensure work equipment is maintained in an efficient state, in efficient working order and in good repair.

When undertaking a risk assessment, the following principles should be taken into account:

  • Avoiding risks.
  • Evaluating unavoidable risks.
  • Combating risks at source.
  • Adapting work to the individual.
  • Adapting work to the individual.
  • Replacing dangerous with safe.
  • Appropriate instructions to employees.

Ways to reduce the risk are as follows:

  • Ensure there is proper job rotation.
  • Ensure that the volume of work being done is appropriate not to lead to a foreseeable risk.
  • Ensure there are appropriate staff to undertake the task.

Diagnose

 

What Experts Will Be Needed For My Claim?

We will generally require you to see an orthopaedic expert with a specialism in upper limb disorders.  It is on what the expert says that we will be able to assess whether the injuries will be associated with work.

We may also need to instruct an ergonomist expert. This is an expert who will be instructed in regards to the mechanism/ergonomics of the work and whether it posed a foreseeable risk. The court will generally be guided by the ergonomics expert on this issue.

What Will My Claim Be Worth?

The value of your claim will depend on the severity of the injuries linked with the work. The court will be guided by the Judicial Studies Board ( JSB ) guidelines which sets out the levels for different awards.

Typical awards can be as follows:

Continuing bilateral disability with surgery – £19,210 – £20,280

Continuing, but fluctuating and unilateral symptoms – £13,080 – £14,330

Symptoms resolving in the course of up to 3 years – £7,580 – £9430

Complete recovery within a short period ( a few months) – £1,930 – £3,090

On top of the figures above you will also be able to claim for any specific financial/out of pocket losses such as loss of earnings/medication costs that have been directly caused by the work.

How Do I Make A Claim?

If you have read the above and feel that you may be suffering from any of the symptoms whilst exposed to repetitive tasks at work then call Oakwood solicitors to speak to our dedicated industrial disease team.

In order to run the majority of Personal Injury claims, you have to have started the claim within the years of the injury. However, with Industrial Disease claims it may be that the injury started over a period of time and was only diagnosed within the last three years. We will be able to clarify this for you.

Ask our team about our No-Win, No-Fee agreement.

Will I Lose My Job if I Make A Claim

If you are still working for the Defendants they can not dismiss you for making or proposing to make a claim. If your employer attempts to do so when you are likely able to make a successful unfair dismissal claim. Generally, in our experience, the high majority of insurers understand their duties owed to you and the right you have to pursue a claim if this duty has been breached.

In the high majority of matters, the claim will normally be transferred from the Defendants directly to their insurers and it will be the insurers who will deal with the Defending of the action.

How Long Will My Case Take?

The length of time for a case can vary and can strongly depend on how Defendants and their insurers want to defend the action. It may take a considerable time to identify insurers for the Defendants if they are no longer trading. and the obtaining of expert evidence from an orthopaedic surgeon and an ergonomist expert can take a considerable amount of time.

We will also need to obtain the full list of your past employers from the HMRC – this also can take some time to obtain. The case can take anywhere from 12 months up to 3–4 years to reach a conclusion.

Testimonials

 

Oakwood Solicitors Ltd

 

Why Use Oakwood Solicitors To Run My Industrial Disease Claim?

We have a very experienced and dedicated team of people in the Industrial Disease department. They are able to identify whether a claim is likely to be viable at an early stage and give advice.

The team works with an extensive network of vascular surgeons, engineers and hand surgeons. They have dealt with a number of claims in all areas of industrial disease and achieved some excellent results.

Could I Have Any Associated Claims?

If you are working in an industry that typically puts you at risk to an RSI type injury, it may well be that you are also being exposed to dangerous level of noise that could have permanently affected your hearing.

It may be that you have not fully appreciated a loss to your hearing as of yet but the loss/damage could already have occurred. You may wish to look at our Noise-Induced Hearing Loss page for further information.

WHAT TO DO NEXT

If you believe you have RSI resulting from your employment history, get in touch today for a free initial consultation in complete confidence. Choose one of the methods on the right-hand side of this page, or call us on 0113 200 9787 to find out how we can help you.

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Quick Facts

  • No Win, No Fee available for hearing loss claims
  • Dedicated and highly skilled repetitive strain claims team
  • You only have 3 years to make a claim
  • Free initial advice from a qualified solicitor
  • High success rate for clients
  • National RSI claim coverage

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Tim Fieldhouse

Solicitor and Head of Industrial Disease

0113 200 9765

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