WORK'S STRAINS AND PAINS
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de sensibilisation microtraumatismes répétés, 29
février 2008 CTC, Canada
Strain Injury Awareness Day - February 29, 2008 CLC, Canada
RSI Awareness Day ILO/CIS , Global
assessment tools, including bodymapping and risk mapping
strain and RSI
RSI Action website
UNISON RSI leaflet, January 2008 [pdf]
CSP RSI prevention factsheet [pdf]
Links to UK
RSI support groups
ETUC: On the offensive against MSDs
musculoskeletal disorders webpage
strain injuries toolbox
Ergonomics Ideas Bank Washington
State Dept. of Labor and Industries, USA
the Pain campaign Resources
for the Stop the Pain campaign run by US national union federation AFL-CIO
ACTU: No body should put up
with it Resources
for the strain injuries campaign run by Australian national union federation
Health Toolkit: musculoskeletal disorders webpage
UAW ergonomics webpage
HSE: Better backs tools for safety reps
As part of its better backs campaign, HSE has published new tools for
safety reps, including a checklist for workplace manual handling inspections.
HSE says the “documents have been put together in partnership with
the TUC to help safety representatives get involved with the campaign.”
275, 23 September 2006 • Manual handling inspections checklist
• HSE better
backs campaign webpages and what
could you do? page
Eurofound: Managing musculoskeletal disorders
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) remain the most common work-related diseases,
according to this October 2007 comparative report published by Eurofound’s
European Working Conditions Observatory (EWCO). The report found that
MSDs were associated with strenuous working conditions and physical strain,
such as tiring and painful working positions, repetitive movements, carrying
heavy loads and poorly designed workstations. Work intensification and
stress lead to increased occurrences of MSDs. Job rotation and team working
are also associated with a higher incidence of MSDs. Lean production models
require workers to perform repetitive tasks at a higher work pace, resulting
in a higher prevalence of MSDs. Enhanced autonomy over working methods,
work pace and choice of breaks is associated with a reduction of MSDs.
The risk is lowered where there is training provided by employers and
consultation about working conditions and about organisational factors.
musculoskeletal disorders • Musculoskeletal
disorders still the most widespread work-related diseases
European Agency Lighten
the load campaign and Back
to Work report
US NIOSH Ergonomics
and musculoskeletal disorders webpages • NIOSH
Cornell University ergonomics
Hazards strains news
Global: Tea firm loses legal bid to block injury cases
An Aberdeen tea firm has lost its appeal against a decision to allow hundreds of Kenyan plantation workers who say they have been injured picking tea to sue for compensation. James Finlay (Kenya) Limited’s bid to have the legal challenge thrown out was rejected by Scotland’s most senior judges at the Court of Session in Edinburgh.
Press and Journal.
8 June 2022
USA: Unsafe Amazon cited for ‘wilful serious violation’
E-commerce giant Amazon has been cited for a ‘wilful’ serious violation and told to pay a $60,000 fine for knowingly putting workers at risk of injury at a US fulfilment centre. A Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) inspection at the facility in Kent, Washington State, found 10 of the 12 processes L&I evaluated create a serious hazard for work-related back, shoulder, wrist and knee injuries, and because it has cited Amazon for similar violations at three Washington locations, “the most recent violation is classified as a wilful violation and comes with a significantly higher penalty than those issued as a result of earlier inspections.”
Washington State Department of Labor and Industries news release. Risks 1037.
24 March 2022
USA: Meat plant line speed-up thrown out by court
In a major victory for workers in America’s pork industry, a federal district court in Minneapolis has ruled that the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) acted unlawfully when it eliminated limits on the speed at which plants run their slaughter lines without considering the increased risk of injury to workers. “The court’s decision recognised that Trump’s USDA violated basic principles of administrative law when it refused to consider the impact of its actions on plant workers and claimed, contrary to its longstanding practice, that it was not allowed to do so,” said Adam Pulver, the Public Citizen attorney who serves as lead counsel on the union UFCW-backed case.
UFCW news release. Public Citizen news release. Daily Kos. Risks 992.
14 April 2021
Europe: Unions back ‘lighten the load’ campaign
Europe’s lead trade union body has backed a new EU-wide campaign addressing musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) at work. A declaration from ETUC welcoming the campaign noted: “The European trade union movement believes that a more comprehensive EU legislation on MSDs is needed, and the member states should include MSDs in their national strategies.”
EU-OSHA news release and Lighten the load campaign website. ETUC declaration. Risks 969.
17 October 2020
Britain: Nissan worker gets payout for job ending work pain
A Newcastle car factory worker who developed a painful repetitive strain injury that forced him to give up his job has secured compensation with backing from his trade union, Unite. Plant operative Colin Reay, 42, was asked to switch departments at the Nissan Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd plant in Sunderland to cover for staff shortages.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 929.
11 January 2020
USA: Call to ditch dangerous pork line speed-up
A US Department of Agriculture (USDA) rule lifting the maximum line speeds and reducing the number of government safety inspectors by 40 per cent at pork slaughter and processing plants should be set aside, a legal challenge has argued. The lawsuit filed by Public Citizen and the foodworkers’ union UFCW follows a rule-making process which saw thousands of individuals and organisations tell USDA its rule would endanger the lives and safety of both consumers and workers.
Public Citizen news release. Risks 918.
12 October 2019
Britain: Wheelie bins better for bin workers’ backs
The use of wheelie bins by refuse workers leads to less time off due to bad backs and strains, new research has found. The research, published in the journal Resources, Conservation and Recycling, shows that the use of wheeled bins is linked to lower sickness absence rates among council waste collection workers and that changing waste collection systems used by councils in the UK could reduce staff absences due to MSDs.
IOSH news release and MSD toolkit. David Thomas, Mark Mulville and Billy Hare. The identification of the domestic waste collection system associated with the least operative musculoskeletal disorders using human resource absence data, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, volume 150, November 2019. Risks 910
17 August 2019
Britain: Physios welcome government consultation on preventing ill-health
The physiotherapists’ union CSP has welcomed a government consultation on its plans for “advancing” health in England. Matt Hancock, secretary of state for public health and primary care, launched the open consultation document on 22 July.
Government consultation, Advancing our health: prevention in the 2020s. The consultation closes on 14 October 2019. CSP news release.
UNISON resources: Aches, pains and strains – guide for safety reps; Aches, pains and strains – leaflet for members; and Aches, pains and strains – poster.
Musculoskeletal disorders - HSE material for health and safety reps, TUC/HSE, September 2018.
Health is everyone’s business: proposals to reduce ill health-related job loss, DWP/DHSC, 15 July 2019. The consultation closes on 7 October 2019. Risks 909.
10 August 2019
Britain: Beer delivery drivers facing unmanageable loads
Thousands of pub and club goers could go thirsty this summer if a dispute over drivers being ask to deliver ‘unmanageable loads’ escalates to strike action, their union Unite has warned. About 100 drivers and their mates employed by drink logistics company Tradeteam Ltd at depots in Immingham, Lincolnshire and Tinsley, Sheffield are being balloted for strike action.
Unite news release. Risks 899.
1 June 2019
Britain: UNISON launches campaign to combat work strains
UNISON has launched a campaign to get better management of all workplace musculoskeletal injuries. Announcing the move on Repetitive Strain Injuries Prevention Day, the last day in February each year, the union said a random sample of 50 strain injury compensation claims made by UNISON members found that 90 per cent of these claims resulted from basic failings in risk assessments, while one-in-five of the claims was caused by staffing difficulties, with staff often being forced to single-handedly lift loads that should have required two people or more to do it.
UNISON news release and work strains resources: Aches, pains and strains – guide for safety reps; Aches, pains and strains – leaflet for members; and Aches, pains and strains – poster. Risks 888
9 March 2019
Britain: Calls to ban low-level letterboxes
Low-level letterboxes should be banned to prevent postal workers straining their backs or being bitten by dogs, a Conservative MP has said. Proposing new legislation, Vicky Ford called for all new letterboxes to be installed at a height of between 70cm and 170cm.
BBC News Online. Risks 881.
19 January 2019
Britain: When it gets busy, logistics firms should take care of workers
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has called on employers to look after the health and safety of warehouse staff and delivery drivers at particularly busy times of year. In an article ahead of Black Friday for the trade publication HSS Magazine, HSE’s Michael Paton wrote: “Staff across Britain are expected to work longer hours to cope with demand – whether that’s those in shops dealing with customers, warehouse staff lifting and moving heavy parcels or delivery drivers on the road for hours on end.”
HSS Magazine. Usdaw news release.
HSE Go Home Healthy campaign, including guidance on musculoskeletal problems. Risks 877.
Hazards news, 1 December 2018
Britain: Avoidable strain caused hernia
A delivery driver has received a substantial payout after suffering a hernia at work. Unite member Peter Warwick, who was a DHL driver when he suffered the injury, strained his groin trying to move an unusually heavy pallet as part of a delivery to a TK Maxx store.
Unite legal report. Risks 875.
17 November 2018
Britain: Want to know more about musculoskeletal risks at work?
The TUC has produced a short online guide for union health and safety reps, signposting where they can get Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advice and guidance on musculoskeletal disorders. The guide is badged jointly with the HSE. It provides links to HSE toolkits, regulations and guides on musculoskeletal disorders.
Musculoskeletal disorders - HSE material for health and safety reps, TUC/HSE, September 2018. Risks 865.
8 September 2018
Global: Ford to put line workers in mechanical exoskeletons
Ford has announced it is introducing mechanical ‘exoskeletons’ to be worn by 75 workers in 15 of its factories. The devices, called EksoVests, wrap around the upper body and are intended to assist when lifting or reaching overhead. Ford said it hoped the suits will reduce fatigue and the number of injuries from repetitive motion, with the company noting: “Imagine lifting a bag of flour or a watermelon over your head up to 4,600 times a day as part of your job – that is similar to what some Ford employees do every day as they work to build vehicles around the world.”
Ford news release. BBC News Online. Risks 862.
18 August 2018
Peru: Site union tries to bag a 25kg maximum weight
The Federation of Civil Construction Workers in Peru (FTCCP), working with the global union BWI, has launched a ‘25 Kilos…No More!’ campaign ahead of the games. “In Peru the weight of cement bags is 42.5 kilograms, which causes permanent injuries and health problems to the workers,” said Luis Villanueva, the deputy general secretary of the FTCCP.
BWI news release and 25 kilo campaign poster. Risks 853
16 June 2018
USA: Poultry workers win campaign against speed up
Poultry workers in the United States have won an important victory after campaigning against an industry’s attempt to remove the maximum line speed. If the petition by the National Chicken Council to the Food Safety and Inspection service (FSIS) had been successful it would have reversed an Obama administration decision to limit the number of birds processed to 140 per minute, a ceiling designed to protect workers from strain injuries and other risks.
IUF news report. UFCW news release. RWDSU news release. Confined Space blog. Risks 836.
10 February 2018
USA: Pork line speed up puts greed before workers
The US food union has warned an official move to speed up pork processing lines puts greed before the health of workers. The union UFCW was speaking out after the US department of agriculture (USDA) announced a proposal to allow pork producers to run their slaughtering lines as fast as they want, in exchange for conducting their own privatised food safety inspections.
UFCW news release. NELP news release. The Pump Handle. Risks 835.
3 February 2018
USA: California passes hotel housekeeper injury rules
California’s workplace health and safety regulator has voted unanimously to introduce new rules to reduce the injuries commonly experienced by hotel housekeepers. Cal/OSHA approved the ‘Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention’ standard, which had been promoted by the union Unite Here, at a meeting attended by hotel housekeepers from across the state.
Unite Here news release and new California standard on Hotel Housekeeping Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention. IUF news release. Risks 834.
27 January 2018
Europe: Campaign says work shouldn't hurt
The European Union and national governments must do more to support workplace health and safety reps tackle work-related strain injuries, the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) has said. The union body says action to prevent strain injuries has been stalled for a decade.
ETUC news release and male and female MSDs infographics. Risks 806.
1 July 2017
USA: Tesla production drive hurts car workers
Tesla’s much-vaunted and highly automated “factory of the future” in Fremont, California, presents some old fashioned hazards for the workers making Elon Musk’s cutting edge electric cars. Reports have revealed the relentless work pressure from Musk’s aggressive production goals are causing high rates of sometimes life-changing injuries.
Capital and Main. The Guardian. American Prospect. Risks 801.
27 May 2017
Britain: Repeat lifts at car parts firm caused back injuries
Car component manufacturer MAHLE Powertrain Limited (MAHLE) Ltd has been fined after six workers experienced back injuries from repeatedly lifting heavy car engine parts by hand. An HSE investigation found that workers who were based on two of the company’s production lines were expected to manually lift engine components weighing between 14 and 21kg, hundreds of times during a shift.
HSE news release and guidance on musculoskeletal problems. Risks 779
3 December 2016
Europe: Unions renew action call on work strains
Europe’s unions have repeated their call for urgent action to tackle the epidemic of work-related back, shoulder, neck, elbow, hand and knee pain that results in a severe loss of quality of life for workers and millions of days off work. The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) says this number one cause of occupational sickness in Europe comes at a cost to employers, workers and health services estimated at €163 billion (£147bn) a year.
ETUC news release. EULAR news release and conference webpage. Risks 772.
15 October 2016
USA: Work is a pain in the neck – official
Work factors are a major pain in the neck, a study has found, but has highlighted the prevention measures that could put the problem behind us. Working with academics, investigators at the US government’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) confirmed the link between neck pain and specific psychosocial and organisational risks in the workplace.
NIOSH Research Rounds, volume 2, issue 2, August 2016.
Haiou Yang and others. Workplace psychosocial and organizational factors for neck pain in workers in the United States, American Journal of Industrial Medicine, volume 59, issue 7, pages 549-560, July 2016.
NIOSH resources: Persistent pain in the neck! What resources help you prevent MSDs in the workplace? Risks 765.
Hazards news, 27 August 2016.
Britain: Hotel union challenges backbreaking work
Nine out of every ten hotel housekeeping workers in London suffers from back pain caused by their job, a union survey has found. Over threequarters of the chefs surveyed by Unite reported having witnessed an injury or a near miss caused by fatigue, with the union saying its report, ‘Unethical London’, exposes the low pay and exploitative work practices that have been allowed to flourish unchecked in the multi-billion hotel industry, which employs 100,000 people in London.
Unite news release and Unethical London report. Risks 765.
27 August 2016.
Britain: Keyboard use led to RSI and job loss
A Unite member has been awarded £30,000 in damages after developing a repetitive strain injury (RSI) from excessive use of a computer keyboard. The 31-year-old woman, whose name has not been released, suffered a strain injury to her right wrist while working as an administrator at an unnamed charity, where she would spend up to eight hours a day entering data onto a computer.
Thompsons Solicitors news release. Risks 745.
9 April 2016
USA: Poultry industry abuses ‘widespread’
Poultry workers in the United States suffer extremely high rates of injury, earn poverty wages, and work in a climate of fear, Oxfam America has said. The group says its report, based on two years of research, is central to a new nationwide campaign to expose the human cost of the modern poultry industry.
Oxfam America news release. Lives on the Line: The Human Cost of Cheap Chicken, Oxfam America, October 2015: full report, executive summary, multimedia website and social media kit. The Pump Handle. Think Progress. Ecowatch. Risks 727
Hazards news, 7 November 2015
Europe: Stress and strains top work risks list
Stress and strains are the most widespread risks encountered in Europe’s workplaces, according to an EU-wide survey. The research found the key factors motivating firms to abide by their occupational health and safety management duties where complying with laws, meeting expectations of workers and their representatives and avoiding fines.
EU-OSHA news release and summary of the ESENER 2 findings. ETUI news release. Risks 709.
4 July 2015
USA: Chicken processor strained wrists and bladders
A chicken processing firm in the US enforced limb-crippling line speeds and didn’t like its workers leaving the line, even to go to the toilet. The Allen Harim Foods plant in Harbeson, Delaware, was cited by the Labor Department’s safety regulator OSHA for nine violations, with the proposed penalties totalling $38,000.
OSHA news release. The Pump Handle. Center for Progressive Reform blog. Risks 709
4 July 2015
USA: Campaigners fight off poultry line speed up
Sweeping new regulations for poultry plants announced by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) will leave processing lines running at their current speeds – a decision that spares workers from an increase but still forces them to endure the current dangerously fast pace, unions and campaigners have said. “Although the most dangerous provision has been removed from this rule, poultry workers still face punishing line speeds and other conditions that lead to widespread and serious injuries,” said Michelle Lapointe, Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) staff attorney.
UFCW news release • SPLC news release • USDA poultry rule webpage • Common Dreams • The Pump Handle • Unsafe at These Speeds: Alabama’s Poultry Industry and its Disposable Workers, SPLC, 2013 • Risks 666
9 August 2014
Britain: Here’s a plan that works – take a break
A simple plan of action backed up by a commitment from senior management could be the best way for employers to ensure their workers get regular screen breaks, according to a new study funded by the Institution of Occupational Safety and Health (IOSH). IOSH teamed up with academics at the University of Derby to investigate what can be done to encourage office and call centre workers to take more postural breaks.
IOSH news release and move more research • Risks 661
5 July 2014
Britain: Tragedies expose ‘low risk’ dangers
A series of tragedies have cast further doubt on the government’s decision to exempt supposedly ‘low risk’ workplaces including shops from routine safety inspections. Critics of the government strategy to exempt retail and other “low risk” workplaces from preventive inspections also point out the risk rating ignores the sometimes sky high occupational disease risks in these jobs.
Thames Valley Police news release • The Guardian • The Sun • BBC News Online on the Mark Rutter conviction, Javaid Ali prosecution and Hugo Boss tragedy • Workers' Compensation Claims for Musculoskeletal Disorders Among Wholesale and Retail Trade Industry Workers — Ohio, 2005–2009, CDC, June 2013 • Risks 609
Hazards news,15 June 2013
Britain: Poor office ergonomics is a real pain
Widespread law breaking by white collar employers is going unpoliced and is resulting in office workers being injured by shockingly designed workstations, the TUC has warned. Speaking after an ergonomics study found half of office workers reported they'd had no workstation risk assessment in the last 12 months, TUC head of safety Hugh Robertson said the government’s hands-off directive to official safety enforcers was leaving workers unprotected and at risk of serious disease.
Daily Mail • Risks 608
Hazards news, 8 June 2013
Britain: Work strain injury victims are being let down
A lack of positive practices to support people with musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) in work is leaving hundreds of thousands at risk of lost earnings, reduced productive working time and early retirement. ‘Taking the strain: the impact of musculoskeletal disorders on work and home life’ found just over half of employed respondents reported a loss of earnings due to the condition.
The Work Foundation news release and report, Taking the strain: the impact of musculoskeletal disorders on work and home life • Risks 586
15 December 2012
Europe: Unions call for a new work safety strategy
Unions are calling for an ambitious European agenda on workplace health and safety, and are demanding EU-wide action to tackle work-related cancers and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs). They warn that the economic crisis should not be used as an excuse to backtrack on safety standards.
ETUC news release and resolutions on a new occupational safety and strategy and action on musculoskeletal disorders • Risks 563
7 July 2012
Britain: Piece work increases the work injury rate
Almost twice as many piece rate workers suffer from workplace injuries as those on standard contracts, according to research from Lancaster University Management School. The increased productivity gained by employers from piece rate work is lost through increased absence and the cost of compensation, the authors note.
Keith A Bender, Colin P Green and John S Heywood. Piece rates and workplace injury: Does survey evidence support Adam Smith?, Journal of Population Economics , volume 25, number 2, 2012 [abstract] • Risks 563
7 July 2012
Europe: Unions demand action on strains
Union bodies have called on the European Commission to “assume political responsibility” and produce “without delay” a draft European Union-wide law to protect workers from musculoskeletal injuries. The demand for action on workplace strains comes in a statement from the European Trade Union Confederation and four other Europe-wide trade union bodies.
ETUC news release and Joint ETUC-ETUI-EPSU-UNI-EFBWW statement [pdf] • Risks 561
23 June 2012
Britain: TUC slams business lobby’s unhealthy attitude
The TUC has criticised a business group’s drive to block new protections from some of the most serious occupational health risks of modern workplaces. EEF, the lobbying group for manufacturing employers, is urging the government to block possible European Union-wide measures to improve protection from workplace stress and strain injuries.
EEF news release • TUC safety campaign resources: Fighting the cuts to health and safety • How to lobby your MP on health and safety • The case for health and safety •
We didn't vote to die at work: Campaign briefings, posters and resources • Risks 490
22 January 2011
Britain: Heavy recycling work caused hernia
A GMB member needed surgery to correct a hernia which could have been avoided if his employer had undertaken and acted on a simple risk assessment. Andrew Kelly, 47, needed the major surgery after moving several objects weighing up to 40kg during an eight-hour shift for global recycling giant Sims Group UK.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Green jobs, safe jobs blog • Risks 490
22 January 2011
Britain: Heavy work hurt warehouse worker
A warehouse operative has received £4,500 in compensation after his employer admitted blame for an injury that left him unable to carry out everyday tasks and that took more than eight months to heal. GMB member Paul Pritchard, 37, was forced to take almost four months off work when he was injured whilst packing aeroplane components at the Rolls Royce Depot in Sunderland for Mitie Group.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 489
15 January 2011
Britain: Repetitive job led to strain injury
A factory worker who developed a repetitive strain injury has been awarded £3,000 compensation for his injuries in a union-backed claim. Unite member Geoffrey Coleman, 41, an employee at an unidentified factory in Kendal, Cumbria, sustained his injuries while packing a new product in the finishing department.
Thompsons Solicitors • Risks 473
19 June 2010
Europe: Strain injuries in Europe
Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) remain the most common occupational disease in the European Union and workers in all sectors and occupations can be affected, a new report from the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) has concluded. It says: “The report highlights the main issues and aims to provide a well-founded evidence base, helping policy makers, actors at enterprise and sector level, as well as researchers and those who record, prevent and compensate occupational diseases in the European Union to set the agenda for the next years.”
OSH in figures: Work-related musculoskeletal disorders in the EU - Facts and figures • Risks 461
19 June 2010
Britain: Bed makers remove mattress strains
An initiative to address greatly elevated strains risks in bed manufacture has met with some success, says the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The watchdog says “employees in the bed manufacturing industry are around twice as likely to suffer manual handling injuries such as back and upper limb disorders than those in any other manufacturing sector,” with jobs like the manual handling of mattresses particularly problematic.
HSE news release and mattress handling initiative • Risks 459
5 June 2010
Britain: Caterpillar didn’t move after warning
A Unite member working as a painter for Caterpillar needed two operations to correct a hernia following a workplace injury has received more than £7,000 in compensation. Keith Robinson, 43, needed the major surgery after moving a 12ft high and 30ft long walkway to access a work area.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 459
5 June 2010
Britain: HGV driver receives compensation for RSI
An HGV driver has received £13,500 in compensation after developing a repetitive strain injury (RSI) doing her job for a blue chip company. The GMB member from Leicestershire, whose name has not been released, has been left with a seriously strained elbow after being forced to attach brakes on her truck twice a day.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 452
17 April 2010
Britain: New HSE strain injuries tool
A new downloadable tool is now available that the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) says can help reduce the likelihood of employees suffering from musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) of the upper limbs associated with repetitive tasks. The Assessment of Repetitive Tasks (ART) tool, developed by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and Health and Safety Laboratory (HSL), can help identify where the significant risks lie, suggest where to focus risk reduction measures and help prioritise improvements, the official safety agencies say.
HSE news release and ART tool • Risks 449
27 March 2010
Britain: Changing the job is best for backs
Action to change the workplace is necessary to secure an early return to work for people with chronic low back pain. A study published online this week in the British Medical Journal concludes those receiving a programme of integrated care, directed at both the patient and the workplace, return to work on average four months earlier than those receiving usual care.
Ludeke C Lambeek and others. Randomised controlled trial of integrated care to reduce disability from chronic low back pain in working and private life, British Medical Journal, volume 340:c1035, published online 17 March 2010. doi:10.1136/bmj.c1035 [abstract] • Risks 448
20 March 2010
Britain: Union calls for action on baggage limits
Unite the union have been running a campaign to try to prevent baggage handlers from having their backs damaged by having to move heavy luggage. Unite says that baggage handlers are five times more likely to be injured, although the cramped conditions they work under are also a major factor.
Unite release • HSE release • Risks 444
20 February 2010
HSE slips and trips website – rebranded
To coincide with the launch of phase 3 of its ‘Shattered Lives campaign’, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) slips and trips website has been rebranded with what the watchdog describes as a new design, better navigation, news and resources.
HSE slips and trips website • STEP • Risks 442
6 February 2010
Britain: Welder gets two diseases from vibration
A welder has developed two serious occupational diseases in his hands as a result of using vibrating tools. The 56-year-old Unite member from Wolverhampton, whose name has not been released, was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) and hand arm vibration syndrome (HAVS).
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 436
12 December 2009
Britain: Cash firm pays out for back injury
A GMB member who was forced to continue lifting heavy objects after he damaged his back, leading to further injury, has received £13,500 in compensation. Alan Titley, 62, from Atherstone in Warwickshire, suffered the permanent injury as result of his work for G4S Cash Services UK in Coventry.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risk 435
5 December 2009
USA: Jobs not gender cause work’s pain
A study of workers at 50 hotels in the United States has found that women are 50 per cent more likely to be injured than men, and that Hispanic women have an injury rate two-thirds higher than their white female counterparts. The study, which will be published in January 2010 in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, said the injury rate was higher for female hotel employees because they worked disproportionately as housekeepers, which is the hotel job most likely to lead to injury.
APHA abstract • New York Times • Risks 432
Hazards news, 14 November 2009
Britain: School assistant suffers slipped disc
A school assistant has received a “substantial” sum in compensation after she suffered a slipped disc while lifting heavy objects at work. GMB member Yvonne Macklin, 48, from Colchester in Essex, was helping a colleague to lift a heavy insulated box containing school lunches; she has been unable to work since the incident in March 2006, is in constant pain and now has a limp and must use crutches.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 432
Hazards news, 14 November 2009
Britain: Bin lift led to bad back
A waste lorry driver who needed surgery after he suffered two slipped discs caused by lifting heavy bins has received a “significant” out of court payout. Unite member Les Webb, 49, was off work for seven and a half months following the 2006 incident while working for Viridor Waste Management in Plympton.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 431
7 November 2009
USA: Dangerous speed up in meatpacking
Four years after a government report found slaughterhouse workers in the US faced more than double the injury rate of manufacturing as a whole, a new survey suggests conditions have deteriorated still further. Almost threequarters (73 per cent) of the Nebraska meatpacking workers surveyed stated that the speed of the line had increased in the past year and more than six out of 10 (62 per cent) said they had been injured in the past year.
Working In These Times • ‘The Speed Kills You’: The voice of Nebraska’s meatpacking workers’, Nebraska Appleseed, October 2009 [pdf] • Risks 428
17 October 2009
Europe: Action needed on workplace strains
Muscle and joint pain accounts for almost half of all sick leave, both in the UK and across Europe, a study has found. Half of all of all sickness absence (49 per cent) is caused by musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), concluded the Fit for Work Europe report by The Work Foundation, a London-based think tank.
Fit for Work Europe website, related blog entry and full report • BBC News Online • Risks 426
4 October 2009
Britain: TUC calls for major strains move
The Work Foundation’s strain injuries report shows the urgent need for better occupational health services, rehabilitation and a specific strain injuries prevention law, the TUC has said. TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “We urgently need new and clear regulations, backed up by strong enforcement against those employers that are causing many of these injuries.”
TUC news release • European trade union MSD campaign • Risks 426
4 October 2009
Britain: Strain injury takes away a future
A concrete technician who developed a debilitating workplace strain injury fears he may never find work again after he was made redundant. GMB member Paul Flintoff, 46, from Selston in Nottingham was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), a painful lower arm disorder which can be caused by prolonged use of hand-held vibrating tools.
Thompsons Solicitors news release • Risks 401
11 April 2009
Britain: Baggage handlers on the lifting case
Unite members from airports all over the UK are to lobby their MPs and will invite them to take part in a ‘baggage challenge’. The parliamentarians will be given the opportunity to try shifting the heavy bags baggage handlers deal with routinely – and will be asked to back the union’s campaign to reduce the weight of checked-in baggage from 32 to 23 kilograms per item.
Unite news release and Lighten up campaign • Risks 397
14 March 2009
Britain: ‘No progress’ on RSI at work
The Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) is calling on the government to encourage employers to do more to prevent repetitive strain injury (RSI). The physios’ union says latest figures from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) show there has been little progress in tackling RSI in the last six years.
CSP news release and RSI prevention factsheet [pdf] • The Guardian • BBC News Online • Personnel Today
International RSI Awareness Day, 28 February. TUC RSI webpages and resources • Hazards International RSI Day resources • CAW International RSI Day briefing • ILO/CIS RSI Day webpage • Risks 395
28 February 2009
Global: International RSI Day, 28 February 2009
This 28 February marks the 10th anniversary of International Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day. The event – which falls on the last day of February each year – is used by occupational disease advocacy organisations, campaigns and trade unions to highlight strain injuries risks and prevention at work and in the community.
CAW International RSI Day briefing • Hazards International RSI Day resources • TUC RSI webpages and resources • ILO/CIS RSI Day webpage • Risks 394
21 February 2009
Britain: Small worker suffers serious strain injury
A petite shopworker has successfully sued her employer after developing a strain injury caused by reaching for the till and the shop's chip and pin device. Usdaw member Jill Hyndman, 51, who is only four feet nine inches tall, claimed her employer, the Co-op in Cinderford, did not take her small stature into account when they redesigned their till areas a few years ago.
The Sun • The Citizen • The Telegraph • Personnel Today • Usdaw healthy checkouts guide • Risks 387
20 December 2008
Britain: Work’s stresses and strains are top concerns
Stress or overwork, injuries and illnesses caused by the poor use of display screen equipment and repetitive strain injuries (RSI) top the list of workers' safety concerns, according to the TUC's biennial survey of safety reps.
TUC news release • Wales TUC news release • Northern TUC news release •TUC biennial survey of safety reps 2008 • Risks 380
1 November 2008
Electrician gets £250,000 for back injuries
A Unite member working as a contract electrician has been awarded £250,000
for the back injuries he sustained when he fell at a Tarmac site in 2003.
Union law firm Rowley Ashworth rejected the insurer’s offer of contributory
negligence to agree liability on a 75:25 split in favour of the member
and issued court proceedings; instead, a final settlement of £250,000
was achieved three weeks before the scheduled trial.
Hazards news, 23 August 2008
nurse gets back payout
A nursery nurse from Newcastle has secured £75,000 damages following
a serious back injury at work. Gillian Scott, 42, a member of UNISON,
was working at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary when the contents
of a box slipped as she was placing it in a cupboard, causing her to fall
against the door which sprung back on her.
Hazards news, 23 August 2008
Strains follow workers out of the office
More than two thirds of workers now suffer from repetitive strain injury,
costing £300 million in lost working hours, a new study has found.
The research from Microsoft revealed cases soared by more than 30 per
cent last year because more staff than ever work both inside and outside
webpage and report, Ergonomics and repetitive strain injury [pdf]
Mail • Risks
Hazards news, 14 June 2008
hotels serve up agony for workers
Luxury hotel workers in Australia have launched a national campaign for
better pay and conditions after an investigation revealed record injury
rates and the highest staff turnover of any industry. Research by hotel
workers’ union LHMU revealed “devastating staff turnover levels,
record injury rates, dangerous workloads, bullying by management and Australia’s
biggest number of low paid workers.”
news release, luxury jobs factsheet [pdf]
hotel jobs campaign website • Risks
Hazards news, 15 March 2008
workers feel the pain
Call centre and other computer-based workers in India are paying a high
price for the job, with significant numbers suffering musculoskeletal
disorders (MSDs), according to a new report. Dr Deepak Sharan, the medical
director of the RECOUP Neuromusculoskeletal Rehabilitation Centre in Bangalore,
found that 75 per cent of the 30,000 individuals in his ongoing study
in India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ are afflicted with musculoskeletal
symptoms related to their work.
Hazards news, 1 March 2008
Britain: Call to
protect workers from RSI
More needs to be done to protect workers from repetitive strain injury
(RSI), physios’ union CSP has warned. It says RSI rates have been
rising in recent years and the problem now costs the UK economy £300m
a year in lost working time, sick pay and administration.
RSI webpages • Updated UNISON RSI guide [pdf]
Hazards news, 1 March 2008
exposes poultry industry horrors
A newspaper that spent 22 months investigating conditions at a major North
Carolina poultry supplier has uncovered a horrific pattern of worker exploitation
and injuries. An accompanying Charlotte Observer editorial adds the immigrant
worker “are being exploited, abused, then thrown away when they
are injured or when they speak up.”
Observer news series and videos • Risks
Hazards news, 16 February 2008
Britain: Tube driver
gets RSI compo go-ahead
A Tube driver has been granted permission to sue London Underground (LUL)
after developing a debilitating wrist injury. RMT member Latona Allison
developed the repetitive strain injury tenosynovitis in her right wrist
and now cannot work as a driver.
Latona Allison (Appellant) and London Underground Ltd,  EWCA
Civ 71, Case No: B3/2007/0536, 13 February 2008 • Risks
Hazards news, 16 February 2008
RSI Day, 29 February 2008
Union reps should start gearing up for International RSI Day, the last
day of February every year. In 2008 - a leap year - that means Friday
29 February. Whether you do a workplace risk assessment, a bodymapping
session or just a bit of general awareness raising, make sure you do something.
after me' poster • Hazards
magazine strains webpage •
Hazards news, 16 February 2008
Training won’t prevent back pain
If employers do not lift a finger to reduce manual handling at work and
just rely on training in “safe” lifting they’ll not
stop workplace back injuries, researchers have concluded. Commenting on
study findings published on the British Medical Journal (BMJ) website,
TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: “It shows that employers
shouldn't be relying on their employees lifting heavy weights ‘correctly’
to prevent back injury, but instead should be reducing the weight of things
that need to be lifted manually,” adding: “The Health and
Safety Executive will now have to review its advice on manual handling
as a matter of urgency.”
Kari-Pekka Martimo and others. Effect
of training and lifting equipment for preventing back pain in lifting
and handling: systematic review, BMJ Online First, 31 January 2008,
doi:10.1136/bmj.39463.418380.BE • Risks
Hazards news, 9 February 2008
Food firm ignored manual handling risks
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is reminding companies of their
legal duties on manual handling after an employee was injured when a 50kg
sack of basmati rice fell on his neck. East End Foods plc pleaded guilty
to safety offences and was fined £25,000 with £28,000 costs.
Hazards news, 2 February 2008
Strain injury leads to forced retirement
A factory worker from Port Talbot who was medically retired after suffering
a repetitive strain injury (RSI) has received almost £17,000 in
compensation. Unite member Barbara Newall’s job was to bag the accessories
that accompanied a DVD player; this included a remote control, a battery
pack, an RF cable and, in some cases, an additional RF lead - she would
pack approximately 4,500 bags per day.
Solicitors new release
RSI Action Day, Friday 29 February: Unions can order a special 'Repeat
after me' RSI day poster from the Hazards Campaign • 'Repeat
after me' poster • Email
the Hazards Campaign for poster order details
Hazards news, 2 February 2008
Britain: Cut weight
limit, say bag handlers
Baggage handlers nationwide are campaigning for the maximum luggage weight
limit allocated to each airline passenger to be cut. Unite, the workers'
union, says baggage handlers want the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
to reduce the maximum weight limit from 32kg to 23kg a bag.
Evening News • Risks
Hazards news,12 January 2008
Hilton caused housekeeper strains
California’s workplace safety regulator has charged that the duties
performed by housekeepers at a hotel - scrubbing, bed making, vacuuming
- violate the state's repetitive strain injury rules. A citation issued
to Hilton Los Angeles Airport hotel (LAX Hilton) “confirmed what
workers have been telling their physicians and management at the LAX Hilton,
that this work and the workload are causing them pain and injury,”
said Pamela Vossenas, senior health and safety representative for the
hotel division of Unite Here.
Union news release • LA
Hazards news, 1 December 2007
after me – strain injuries hurt
Strain injuries are commonly reported as the top cause of work-related
injury, disability and lost time. They are easily prevented - and there
has never been a better time to take action.
Hazards strains resources
after me’ poster • Email
the Hazards Campaign for poster order details
Hazards news, 1 December 2007
Britain: Minister backs union strains campaign
Health and safety minister Lord McKenzie has added his weight to a union
bad backs prevention initiative. The minister joined trade union safety
representatives and experts from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)
on a London unionlearn course, to mark the start of European Health and
Hazards news, 27 October 2007
Europe: ETUC goes on the strains offensive
Unions in Europe are being urged to join “a massive offensive”
against workplace strain injuries. John Monks, ETUC general secretary,
said: “We want to launch a mass trade union offensive focused on
work organisation to stem these rapidly-spreading work-related illnesses.”
ETUC news release [pdf]
Hazards news, 20 October 2007
Europe: Getting to grips with strain injuries
Three simple letters - MSD – identify the leading cause of occupational
illness in Europe, according the European trade union safety thinktank,
REHS. Its new guide to musculoskeletal disorders – MSDs –
provides a “summary of the current scientific knowledge of this
complex group of pathologies, examines the connection between MSD and
changes in the organisation of work and proposes ideas for a necessary
trade union mobilisation against this exploding health problem.”
Musculoskeletal disorders. An ill-understood pandemic Further
details and online order form
Hazards news, 6 October 2007
Britain: Call for more physios to help workers
Workplace strain injury victims are being let down by a shortage of physiotherapists
– yet most physio graduates are out of work. Physio’s union
CSP says just 24 per cent of physio graduates who could be treating patients
have a job.
Hazards news, 22 September 2007
USA: Extra screen breaks are healthy and productive
More frequent breaks from screen-based work reduce fatigue and increase
productivity, US government researchers have found. A team from the US
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) concluded:
“These results provide further converging evidence that supplementary
breaks reliably minimise discomfort and eyestrain without impairing productivity.”
Traci Galinsky and others. Supplementary breaks and stretching exercises
for data entry operators: A follow-up field study, American Journal
of Industrial Medicine, volume 50, issue 7, pages 519–527, 2007
Hazards news, 18 August 2007
Britain: Upped work rate caused clerk's strain
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has paid out almost £500,000 after
an RAF computer clerk developed a chronic repetitive strain injury caused
by an increased work rate. A total of £484,000 in compensation and
legal costs was awarded following the onset of the condition in the hand
of the unnamed employee.
Hazards news, 4 August 2007
Britain: CWU action on mail strains
Postal union CWU has launched a new guide to tackle the high rates of
workplace strains suffered by mail delivery staff. It says musculoskeletal
injuries in Royal Mail are running at over 10 times the rate for workplaces
news release • CWU safe working on delivery guide [pdf]
Hazards news, 28 July 2007
Britain: Nestlé pays out for tennis elbow
Nestlé UK Ltd has paid compensation to four workers at the coffee
making giant's site at Burton on Trent after each of them developed tennis
elbow – mirroring the experiences of workers at another of the company’s
plants in Brazil. Steven Davis, received £11,000, a colleague £4,000
and two other workers undisclosed sums after developing the occupational
Hazards news, 28 July 2007
Britain New IOSH occupational health toolkit
IOSH, the organisation for safety professionals – safety officers
to you and me – has produced a new, free, online occupational health
toolkit. IOSH says this new resource “brings together information,
guidance, factsheets, case studies, training materials, presentations
and more to help you tackle occupational health problems.”
300, 31 March 2007 • IOSH
occupational health toolkit
Occupational Health Toolkit: musculoskeletal disorders webpage
Britain: Vibrating injury victim secures compensation
A production worker has secured £7,000 compensation after developing
debilitating hand and arm conditions caused by exposure to vibrating tools.
The union GMB has secured the payout from two former employers of John
Coggon, 52, who was diagnosed with vibration white finger (VWF) and carpal
tunnel syndrome (CTS) in September 2005 following his employment with
National Power from 1977 to 1992 and then Newells from 1992 to 2002.
298, 17 March 2007 • Hazards work
and health and compensation
Britain: Better backs tools for safety reps
As part of its better backs campaign, HSE has published two new tools
for safety reps, a checklist for workplace manual handling inspections
and a practical guide to managing sickness absence and return to work.
HSE says the “documents have been put together in partnership with
the TUC to help safety representatives get involved with the campaign.”
275, 23 September 2006 • Hazards work
and health webpages
Britain: Over stretched NHS can’t reach
The health service is too stretched to deal with the one million plus
workers with a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) caused or made worse by
work, physios’ union CSP has warned.
275, 23 September 2006
Britain: Editor wins £37,500 RSI damages
A Guardian newspaper night editor who says she was refused access to the
company physiotherapist after developing crippling elbow pain has been
paid £37,500 in damages for repetitive strain injury (RSI). Andrea
Osbourne, who had been a casual at the paper for two and a half years,
worked almost exclusively using a mouse, at speed, for an average nine
hours a night, and up to 45 hours a week, without a break.
258, 27 May 2006
Sweden: Heavy work makes you sick
Workers performing jobs that require heavy work are far more likely to
take long-term sick leave, a Swedish study has found.
231, 5 November 2005
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