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Southport Reporter

Edition No. 88

Date:- 28 February 2003

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Report with thanks to the Dept. of H&S

NEW guidance to help reduce Musculoskeletal Disorders such as backaches and Repetitive Strain Injury at work has today been published by the Health and Safety Executive - coinciding with International RSI Awareness day.

Advice on using laptops and working with a computer mouse is available in ‘The law on VDUs: an easy guide’, and ‘Work with Display Screen Equipment’, while or RSI in small businesses’ offers advice in other work activities. Around 1.1 million people in Great Britain suffered from MSD’s caused or made worse by work, in 2001/02. 

Health and Safety Commissioner Owen Tudor, launching the three HSE guidance booklets at a conference organised by the RSI Association in Nottingham said, “The time for excuses is over. By following the guidance, preventative action in most workplaces can be taken quite easily and need not be costly. Indeed it is likely to be far more expensive for employers and their insurers to ignore RSI, which may lead not only to compensation claims, but also to costs arising from sickness absences and reduced productivity.

“Excessive work pressures, such as high job demands, time pressures and a lack of control, can often act alongside physical risk factors like force, posture and repetition, and can influence both the onset and duration of RSI. Only an integrated management approach which addresses both the organisational and the physical aspects of a worker’s job and work environment is likely to be successful in preventing RSI.

It is particularly important to identify signs of RSI early, to treat the individual and remedy the causes, including stress and other psychosocial factors in the workplace, before the condition moves into its chronic phase".

An estimated 12.3 million working days were lost due to work-related MSD’s, on average each sufferer took 19.4 days off in 2001/02. These figures include upper limb disorders from which approximately 400,000 people suffered, resulting in a loss of around four million working days in the same period. 

‘The law on VDUs: an easy guide’ aimed at small businesses, contains illustrated, practical advice on avoiding risk from using ordinary office computers. Similar advice on issues in full technical and legal detail and is aimed at large firms and health and safety professionals. 

‘Aching arms (or RSI) in small businesses’ is a new free leaflet aimed at reducing RSI due to work activities other than those caused by using display screen equipment (DSE). It offers advice for identifying risk factors such as using force, repetitive movements, or poor posture, and gives practical ideas and tips for preventing RSI. 

Southport Reporter is Trade Mark of Patrick Trollope.   Copyright © Patrick Trollope 2003.