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Monday, November 24, 1997 Published at 21:02 GMT



Business

RSI test case starts
image: [ Court date: two of the women fighting the RSI test case ]
Court date: two of the women fighting the RSI test case

A major test case in which part-time bank workers are claiming compensation for Repetitive Strain Injury has begun in Britain.

The Banking Insurance and Finance Union is taking the case on behalf of five former part-time employees of Midland Bank's processing centre in Frimley, Surrey.

The five were employed inputting cheques and other information onto computers and worked to strict deadlines.


[ image: Linda Gregory, of Bifu, says the women suffer pain in teh arms and neck]
Linda Gregory, of Bifu, says the women suffer pain in teh arms and neck
Outside court, Bifu negotiating officer Linda Gregory said: "The women have suffered RSI as a result of thousands and thousands of very small repetitive movements encoding information from cheques.

"The symptoms show themselves as pain in the hands, wrists, all up the arms, shoulders, elbows and across the back of the neck."

Repetitive Strain Injury, or RSI, refers to a spectrum of diseases, from tendonitis of the hand or wrist to carpal tunnel syndrome.

The injuries come from repeated physical movements, such as typing or using a computer mouse, that cause damage to tendons, nerves, muscles and other soft body tissues.

How injuries occur

To function properly, the body needs a steady supply of blood. Cutting off or slowing the blood supply harms the tissues of the body. Tense muscles squeeze off their own flow of energy and fuel.


[ image: Good posture can prevent RSI]
Good posture can prevent RSI
Muscles can get energy without oxygen, but not without pain. The process produces lactic acid, a potent pain-causing chemical. As pain develops, muscles tighten further to "guard" the surrounding area. Nerves deprived of blood and squeezed by muscles begin to tingle or go numb.

The rise in computer use has caused the number of RSI cases to skyrocket in recent years. A number of books have been written on the subject and many people have started Internet campaigns to make workers more aware of the dangers.


[ image: But bad posture can cause RSI]
But bad posture can cause RSI
Ms Gregory said: "RSI will be the industrial disease of the 21st century if employers ignore the well-being of staff. Employers need to start taking RSI seriously."

The case, at the Mayor's and City of London Court, is expected to run until Chrismas with a judgement unlikely before the New Year.






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Midland Bank


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