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Saturday, 23 February, 2002, 07:20 GMT
TUC warns of RSI risks
The TUC wants workplace assessments
Typing with poor posture has been linked to RSI
The TUC is issuing new guidelines to 200,000 union safety representatives urging them to inspect their workplace for the risks of RSI - repetitive strain injury.

The organisation estimates that one in 50 workers in the UK, more than half a million people, suffers from RSI at a cost of 1bn to the economy.

Union reps who find significant risks will be advised to ask their management for a full risk assessment of the jobs most vulnerable.

The campaign is launched ahead of International RSI Awareness Day on 28 February.

RSI facts
506,000 sufferers
56% are women
One third under 45
5.4 million days lost last year
Six people give up work permanently each day
*Figures from TUC

But some doctors say there is scant evidence that RSI exists as a clear, physical syndrome.

TUC general secretary John Monks said: "RSI affects millions of people around the world, and half a million every year in Britain alone.

"It is entirely preventable, and easily curable if caught early.

"Union safety reps can now use the HSE's risk filter to help managers get a grip on the risks of RSI, and prevent suffering, job loss and poverty for thousands of people.

"We want to see partnership in action, preventing RSI."

Misleading

Those prone to suffer from RSI work on assembly lines or in front of computer screens for long periods.

There is much debate about the nature and cause of the condition.

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

Some doctors have argued that the name is misleading because it is not caused by repetition, but persistent tension in the muscles.

Others suggest it is caused by psychological, rather than physical, factors.

In civil cases, a complainant has to prove that the employer breached their duty of care.

Last year, 2000 workers received more than 10,000 each in compensation.

The biggest compensation payout ever was 250,000 to a bank worker.

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 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Virginia Eastman
"Playing computer games may aggravate RSI"
See also:

26 Dec 01 | Scotland
STUC accuses bosses over stress
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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