What is repetitive strain injury?
Repetitive Strain Injury, also known as RSI, describes pain felt in muscles, nerves and tendons which is caused by repetitive movement.
RSI can lead to difficulty in carrying out basic activities such as driving and getting dressed; leading to extended time off work.
Common areas of injury
• Forearms & elbows
• Wrists and hands
Main causes of RSI
• Heavy lifting
• Operating machinery
• Working on production lines
• Repeated use of vibrating tools
Symptoms of repetitive strain injury
Employers are legally required to keep their staff safe from harm by taking reasonable measures. Employers are not obligated to eliminate all risks but they must reduce risks as much as is ‘reasonably practical.’ You will need to prove that the employer failed their duty of care towards you and that your repetitive strain injury was caused by negligent work practice.
Factors of employer negligence that cause RSI involve elements such as lack of training, insufficient safety equipment and failure to assess risk.
Repetitive strain injuries are different from most other injuries in the sense that they develop over time and are often caused by tasks that are not risky. To prove this, you may need:
- Your medical records: if GP has diagnosed your injury, this is useful as evidence.
- Occupational health notes: emails or letters from occupational health that suggest your working environment or tasks needs change. This is especially useful if your employer has not taken heed to their advice.
- Communication with employer: informing the employer of your injury.
- Photographs of working environment: for example, pictures that show an assembly line in a factory.
- Record of injury: try to keep notes of how your injury developed and at what stage. For example, in the case of one of our clients, she initially had wrist pain but that slowly developed into shoulder pain and arm ache.
Claims for repetitive strain injury must be made within three years. However, repetitive strain injury is different to normal accident claims because it can take many months or years to develop. Therefore, the time limit for RSI starts from the date of knowledge. This means from the date you were aware of your injury, usually when diagnosed by a medical professional. It is best to begin your claim as soon as possible.
There is not a set amount of compensation that can be claimed for repetitive strain injury. However, the Judicial College provides guideline compensation amounts for various injuries including work-related upper limb disorders:
• £20,560 – £21,700 compensation where there is continuing disability and loss of employment.
• £13,970 – £15,330 compensation where there’s continuing symptoms.
• £8,110 – £10,090 compensation where symptoms resolve within 3 years.
• £2,070 – £3,310 compensation where within a matter of weeks to months a complete recovery is made.
For repetitive strain injury, you can claim general damages as advised above. This part of the claim covers your pain, suffering and any loss of amenity. Loss of amenity refers to not being able to do an activity as a result of RSI. E.g., you used to play tennis on the weekends, but you can no longer do so due to your injury.
Special damages are in place to claim back any costs, losses or expenses incurred due to your injuries: e.g., lost income, medical costs and travel expenses.
The court will typically award RSI compensation for the following if employer negligence is proven:
• Pain and suffering.
• All medical expenses
• Transport expenses
• Loss of income
• Cost of any assistive devices if required.