Employers should provide occupational health services by law to prevent and reduce repetitive strain injury (RSI), which costs the economy £300m a year, a health body has warned.
The latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show that 213,000 people in work had a musculoskeletal upper limb or neck disorder that was caused or made worse by work in 2007-08. An estimated 2.8m working days were lost in the same year due to RSI, with each person affected taking 13.3 days off sick on average.
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) said RSI, which is usually preventable, costs employers around £300m per year in lost working time, sick pay and administration. Yet in 2007-08, a third of RSI cases (81,000) were new – a similar figure to the 87,000 people with RSI recorded in 2001-02 – proving the problem has not been tackled in six years.
Pauline Cole, a CSP spokeswoman, said: "There is a clear opportunity for employers to do more to provide occupational health services both with regard to prevention of RSI and rehabilitation. The CSP is calling on the government to both encourage and enforce measures to address this with legislation, combined with incentives and best practice guidance. We may then, after the frustration of many years of no progress, begin to see some reduction in the rates of this almost completely preventable condition."
A report last year said mobile working was pushing RSI to an all-time high. Work-related 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.