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Wednesday, 1 August, 2001, 09:11 GMT 10:11 UK
RSI victims 'suffer in silence'
Typing has been linked to RSI
Thousands of people in the UK are suffering from repetitive strain injury in silence, according to a report.

The TUC says that for every worker who has won compensation for RSI, another 50 have struggled on without help.

RSI can end careers and ruin lives

Owen Tudor
It says more than 150,000 workers are suffering from RSI, but only 3,000 successfully claimed compensation last year.

It is calling for employers to join forces with unions to set up prevention programmes, and improve rehabilitation for sufferers.

Owen Tudor, the TUC's senior health and 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."

Big losses

It is estimated that British business loses 1 billion a year through loss of production because of RSI. Workers most at risk from RSI are those on small assembly lines or those using keyboards, such as typists and journalists.

A third of all workers - about eight million - say they have to repeat the same sequence of movements most of the time.

The symptoms of RSI include swelling, tenderness, numbness, muscle spasms, pins and needles and weakness, mainly in hands, wrists and arms.

However, there is a debate about whether the condition is caused by physical or psychological factors. In civil cases, a complainant has to prove that the employer breached their duty of care.

The biggest-ever compensation payout was almost 250,000 to a bank worker last year.

In another case, involving bank workers at a processing centre, staff won increased breaks, lower productivity targets and compensation.

The TUC urged employers to assess risks, encourage workers to take frequent breaks, and to change systems of work to avoid repetition.

See also:

15 Sep 00 | Health
RSI 'linked to psychology'
12 Aug 00 | Health
Lefty workers 'at risk of injury'
16 Jul 99 | Health
RSI linked to nerve damage
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