FAQs: Compensation for repetitive strain injuries (“RSI”)


What is an RSI?

RSI it not in itself a medically recognised condition, but an umbrella term referring to injuries to the muscles, tendons or nerves of the arms, hand, upper back or neck caused by repetitive motions or bad  posture. Examples include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, vibration white finger, frozen shoulder, and tennis elbow. RSI is sometimes known as Work Related Upper Limb Disorder as it is often caused by work activities involving awkward postures, repetitive movements or heavy lifting.

What duties do employers have to protect staff against RSI?

There is no specific obligation on employers to prevent RSI. However, they have a general duty of care to ensure a safe working environment for staff. Breaching this duty can constitute negligence. There are numerous pieces of legislation that impose further requirements on employers to protect staff from injury. These include the Health & Safety at Work Act 1974, the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the Manual Handling Operations Regulations 1992, and the Health & Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992.

Can employees get compensation for RSI if their employer has breached the duty of care?

If the employee wants to make a claim for negligence against their employer, they must prove that it caused direct and foreseeable damage to them. This will fail at the first hurdle if it cannot be proven that the RSI itself was caused by the employer’s negligence. In practice it can be hard to prove this because RSI symptoms can arise from a wide range of factors in someone’s personal and work life. However, it is not impossible to prove and there have been many successful claims against employers based on RSI.

How much compensation can be obtained for RSI caused by an employer’s negligence?

It is possible to get compensation for damages directly resulting from the employer’s negligence and which were foreseeable to the employer. In the case of an RSI, this might typically include the cost of physiotherapy and loss of earnings due to not being able to work, as well as for pain and suffering. It is possible that the compensation will be reduced if it is considered that the claimant didn’t take sufficient steps to prevent the RSI themselves (“contributory negligence”), for example, if they ignored internal health and safety rules.
If you would like to obtain legal advice on RSI injuries, Caven can put you in touch with a local solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.
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