RSI Action… is the national RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) charity
Our objects are:
• To facilitate the prevention of the conditions known collectively as Repetitive Strain Injuries (RSI) in the UK.
• To facilitate the relief of sickness, hardship and distress amongst those suffering within the UK from RSI conditions.
What are the problems?
• Intense static activities are increasing – more people using more computers for more tasks, workplace stress is increasing, mobile communications are increasing, leisure use of games and iPods are increasing.
• Not enough is known about RSI conditions, in particular diffuse RSI conditions are very difficult to diagnosis and to understand, especially for doctors not specialising in these conditions. It is therefore understandable that these conditions are not well understood by doctors. All too often Occupational Health doctors do not ensure that employers provide adequate protection from RSI conditions.
• There is little agreement on diagnosis of conditions. There is a plethora of medical terms for Diffuse RSI, resulting in confusion and frustration for the patient, and often denial of protection and treatment.
• Statistics on RSI conditions alone are difficult to obtain. Official statistics often group RSI conditions with other musculoskeletal conditions. In addition these conditions are not always correctly diagnosed. These factors contribute to a divergence between some statistics that suggest a reduction of MSDs and the scale of RSI symptoms and conditions perceived by RSI Support Groups.
• The medical examination for Incapacity Benefit has always been difficult for sufferers of RSI conditions. The green paper published in January 2006 on “Empowering people to work”, seems to offer very little for RSI sufferers. There are no new protective measures offered to workers, no new resources to ensure compliance with existing legislation, and no offers of treatment for RSI on the NHS. But there is a significant risk that the publicity and ministerial commitment associated with this campaign will result in more harassment, more isolation, and less support for sufferers of RSI conditions.
• The adversarial legal system in personal injury cases, can leave the injured party disadvantaged and even intimidated by the combined might of large employers and insurance companies. Employers are frequently in complete denial regardless of the evidence. In a recent press release by APIL (the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) it was stated that; “In up to two thirds of cases insurers fail to comply with the pre-action protocols and deny liability even when it is admitted in the end, ultimately slowing down the process and adding to costs. We believe admission of liability should be both binding and early.”
• Medico-legal expert witnesses for RSI cases have not always provided unbiased expert opinion to the court, and now following the recent Professor Meadows High Court judgment, expert witnesses will now be beyond the jurisdiction of the professional bodies. Surely this will only increase the likelihood of the defendants’ budgets influencing court decisions?
• The home and school have also become an RSI risk for our children. They are cases of children of 7 years old with serious RSI conditions, and teenagers having to take their GCSEs and A-levels with RSI conditions that require their teachers to write out their exam answers for them.
Health and Safety Executive (HSE) figures for 2003/04 show 448,000 British workers suffered from Musculo-skeletal Disorders (MSDs, which include RSI conditions), an increase of 52,000 from cases of Musculo-skeletal Disorders from 2001/02. It is estimated that 4.7 million working days in Great Britain were lost due to RSI conditions in 2003/04. Informal surveys indicate that 1 in 3 computer users may have the early symptoms of RSI conditions.
What will RSI Action do?
RSI Action has recognised it has significant tasks ahead, and will develop projects and activities to address them. This list is not exhaustive; it will be reviewed and will no doubt increase.
• to raise awareness of RSI conditions and the consequences
• to significantly reduce RSI risks in the workplace
• to significantly reduce RSI risks for students, and in the home
• to ensure that society understands the physical, social and economic problems resulting from RSI
Initial projects for RSI Action will be to:
• develop a website (information, support and advice)
• gather up-to-date information
• seek to influence medical, employment and government agencies.
What has been achieved in the last decade?
The Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992 came into force on 1st January 1993, to conform to European law. Compliance with these Regulations is not consistent. Some employers take them very seriously, provide excellent protection for their employees, and see it as a very worthwhile investment. Sadly many employers ‘go through the motions’ by providing a few leaflets and ‘tick box’ workstation assessments, resulting in continued poor understanding of the real risks of RSI, how to minimise these risks, or how to recognise the early stages. Consequently significant numbers of employees are still finding that they are unnecessarily injured and disabled. RSI risks are not exclusive to computer and digital equipment. Health and Safety Regulations cover all working environments, and require proper risk analysis and consequential action to reduce all risks (including risks of RSI). Whether it be the building industry, manufacturing, office work, or driving, employers have statutory responsibilities. However many other organisations also have some responsibility to work with employers to help ensure that RSI injuries are significantly reduced, for example occupational health advisers and trades unions.
We (society) cannot be satisfied that we are doing enough. Some progress has been made, but this is offset by the increasing workplace pressures, and the increase of static and intense working practices. RSI Action will seek to work with government, health and safety organisations, trade unions, employers, medical professionals and educationalists, to meet its objects which are; to facilitate the prevention of RSI, and; to facilitate the relief of sickness, hardship and distress amongst those RSI suffers.
The idea for creating RSI Action grew out of frustration that there was no national RSI voice after the previous national RSI charity, RSIA (The RSI Association) closed down in March 2004. The RSIA website was bought by KeyTools, a commercial organisation, and continues to be run by them as RSIA (RSI Awareness).
RSI Action cannot do this alone, it needs your support to:
• demonstrate a broad-based of support
• confirm the extent of RSI problems
• enable credible external fundraising
• provide meaningful communication
© 2011 RSI Action…
Registered Charity No. 1114977