Physiotherapists called for government and employers to do more to protect the health of employees from repetitive strain injury (RSI), following a dramatic increase in the number of cases.
A study conducted by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy found that RSI cost employers almost £300m annually in lost productivity and sick pay, accounting for an estimated 3.5 million working days lost in 2006-07.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported 115,000 new cases of RSI in 2006-07, compared with 86,000 new cases in 2005-06. The total number of RSI sufferers has increased by more than 50,000 to 426,000 in the past year, it was reported.
Chartered Society of Physiotherapy spokesman, Bronwyn Clifford said the problem was “totally unnecessary” because RSI could often be avoided with advice on appropriate equipment and safe working practices from occupational health physiotherapists.
“Government and employers must do more to protect the health of employees and prevent a further increase in RSI. We urge the government to promote the use of occupational health physiotherapists more widely and to work with the HSE to ensure that current legislation is adhered to by all employers,” he said.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy called for employers to:
- provide assessments for each staff member to see what risks are associated with their job, and how best to combat these risks
- encourage early reporting of any symptoms, and provide access to appropriate help, such as consulting and occupational physiotherapists
- ensure employees are able to organise their work and take regular breaks.