New guidance offers advice on good management of ULDs

Upper limb and neck disorders are not trivial and should not be disregarded
by employers

Around 4.2million working days are lost in Britain each year because of the
half a million upper limb or neck disorder sufferers in the workplace, the HSE
has said.

Each employee takes an average of 13 days off work, costing employers at
least £200m, it added.

The TUC, meanwhile, has estimated that 5.4 million days were lost in sick
leave last year to RSI, with six workers leaving their jobs every day because
of the condition.

About a third of workers with RSI were under 45, and just over half (55 per
cent or 276,000) were women, the unions’ body added.

Its figures show the majority of workers suffering from the condition were
located in London and the South East, but with other ‘hotspots’ in the North
West and East Anglia.

To coincide with international RSI day in February, the HSE revised its
guidance, Upper limb disorders in the workplace, on the best ways to prevent
and manage RSI and similar work-related upper limb disorders (ULDs).

Launching the new guidance, Dr Alan Whitehead, minister for health and
safety, said: "These conditions are not trivial, nor the inevitable
consequences of working life. They are as unacceptable today as the old
industrial diseases were in the past."

Elizabeth Gyngell, head of the HSE’s ULD programme, added: "It is much
better for business if it is easier for employers to get treatment for
employees and help them return to work, than it is to replace them.

"We have to recognise that not all upper limb disorders can be
prevented so it is essential that employers manage cases appropriately. This
new guidance sets out how this can be done."

The key to preventing RSI in the workplace was ensuring training, HR and OH
services all worked closely together, argued Angela Dunlop, occupational health
and safety adviser at Scottish Equitable.

The company, for instance, ensures all staff are trained properly and are
encouraged to carry out self-assessment and that proper workstation ergonomic assessments
are conducted.

Staff and managers are also encouraged to report when an employee moves
position so a new assessment can be carried out.

"If someone has a problem, they are encouraged to contact us, and they
do," she said.

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