Mobile workers push RSI figures to an all-time high

Work-related repetitive strain injury (RSI) cases are at an all-time high and the cost to businesses is spiralling as changing trends see professional staff working on the move more than ever before, according to research by Microsoft.

The survey found that cases of RSI have soared by more than a third in the past year, costing businesses more than £300m in lost working hours.

The rising number of cases was largely down to increased mobile working, with office-based employees now more likely to be working on the move for an average of an hour more per day than they did two years ago, often using laptops and mobile devices.

The poll of more than 1,000 workers found more than two thirds complained of aches and pains, with the most common symptoms including back ache, shoulder pain and wrist/hand pain as a result of working while in transit in cramped or awkward positions.

The report also found a worrying lack of knowledge about the risks workers faced from conditions such as Blackberry thumb, named after the ubiquitous wireless hand-held device. Nearly a third of those suffering from RSI-like symptoms did not associate this with anything work-related and did not report anything to their management.

Fewer than half of UK workplaces had an ergonomic hardware programme in place and nearly a quarter of workers were not aware if their company even had one, it added.

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