Desk jobs, manual work and gaming - the hidden health scandal These days a large proportion of the jobs available to the UK labour force are desk jobs. Even jobs that have always been associated with being on the road or outdoors type roles now feature a certain amount of computer time. For example, the police, who have long been allied with the image of the 'bobby on the beat', out on the streets, hunting for crooks, are spending increased periods of their shifts writing reports and filling in forms at their desk. Although people have been fulfilling desk jobs for many decades, it is only in recent years that people have realised quite why they are suffering from acute back pain, tingling fingers and sore wrists.
It has taken some time to grasp the link between work and pain but nowadays the discomfort that is suffered by a large number of people on a regular basis is directly linked to their desk job, the way they sit, the tasks they carry out and the work station provisions that employers are responsible for. Work related injuries or industrial illnesses are now recognised as a very real problem that costs individuals in more than one way. They might have to bear the brunt of a loss of earnings, time off work, possible permanent painful disability and the pain that comes with a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) (also classed as repetitive strain injury or RSI), such as carpal tunnel syndrome, vibration white finger and other back, neck and arm problems. The key to minimising MSD's is to eliminate work related risks.
If a role entails stints of high speed typing then breaks should be encouraged and other activities which take the typist away from the keyboard should be built into each working day. Prevention is very important when it comes to this type of work related illness. Anyone suffering from this type of injury may not be able to work in their chosen field in the future because their injury prevents it. By law, employers also have to ensure that their employees have a suitable workstation and as such must carry out a work station assessment. Some of the standards set out in the assessment are as follows: Ensure that all staff have a suitable, fully adjustable chair with lumbar support if they need it, the chair should have a suitable length bottom cushion so that the employee can sit right back without pressure behind the knee The computer screen should be at a suitable height and the correct distance away from the person using it (20 inches away is recommended) That a wrist support is supplied if necessary, this supports the wrist when not typing There should be enough leg room under the desk so that the employee can move their legs around comfortably The computer screen should be free from glare.
All employees should also have an eye test, paid for by their employer if they feel that they need one The area should be free from obstacles such as wires and pieces of office furniture and equipment When typing the wrists should be in a flat neutral position Carpal tunnel syndrome (a type of compression neuropathy (nerve damage) caused by compression and irritation of the median nerve in the wrist) and repetitive strain injury are extremely common complaints amongst people who have to carry out repetitive tasks such as typing, stapling or any other recurring movement that is unnatural and awkward. It is estimated that in 2001/2002 12.3 million working days were lost in the UK to work related MSD's. Many people who have to type for long periods of time, find that over time they begin to experience pain in their hands, arms, neck and back. Fortunately the symptoms can be eased but only but ceasing the activity that caused the problem in the first place. Bad news for typists.
The desk job populace aren't the only ones to suffer however. With the rise and rise of gaming, from video games such as Playstation to Internet multi-play games, there has been a huge increase in the number of people with RSIs that aren't related to work. Children are becoming the new victims of MSD because of their passion for games. With millions of children owning a game facility the rise of carpal tunnel syndrome in and out of the work place could become the new scourge of society. These days employers cannot argue ignorance as a plea against personal injury cases brought against them, including for cases of RSIs such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
If they fail to adequately protect their employees from injury by expecting them to carry out repetitive tasks such as typing without breaks then they leave themselves open to becoming liable to pay accident compensation. If you have been injured in an accident at work in whatever capacity, from a slip or a trip to an RSI developed because of your workload, then you are entitled to seek free legal advice and can claim compensation for your suffering and for any future loss of earnings. For free legal advice regarding making a personal injury claim or to learn more about carpal tunnel syndrome, you can call us on 0800 197 32 32. .
By: Sophie Evans