Strain injuries are commonly reported as the top cause of work-related injury, disability and lost time. They are easily prevented.


Image: AFL-CIO

Image: ACTU

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Journée de sensibilisation microtraumatismes répétés, 29 février 2008 CTC, Canada

Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day - February 29, 2008 CLC, Canada

International RSI Awareness Day ILO/CIS , Global


Hazards Workplace assessment tools, including bodymapping and risk mapping

Hazards Computer workstations checklists

TUC Back strain and RSI webpages

RSI Action website

NUJ RSI webpages

UNISON RSI leaflet, January 2008 [pdf]

CSP RSI prevention factsheet [pdf]

Links to UK RSI support groups

ETUC: On the offensive against MSDs
HESA musculoskeletal disorders webpage
HESA strain injuries toolbox
Other useful resources

Ergonomics Ideas Bank Washington State Dept. of Labor and Industries, USA

AFL-CIO: Ergonomics/Stop 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 ACTU

IOSH Occupational 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.”
Risks 275, 23 September 2006 • Manual handling inspections checklist [pdf] • 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.
Managing musculoskeletal disordersMusculoskeletal disorders still the most widespread work-related diseases

European Agency Lighten the load campaign and Back to Work report

Ergonomics and musculoskeletal disorders webpages • NIOSH lifting equation

Cornell University ergonomics web

US RSI support groups


 Hazards strains news

Britain: HSE campaign to combat site strains and pains
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is warning that construction workers are picking up injuries and conditions as a result of manual handling that can stop them working and leave them struggling to stand, walk or sit down. It says HSE inspectors will be carrying out 1,000 inspections in October and November checking how workers are moving heavy or bulky materials.
HSE news release and resources, Manual handling assessment charts (the MAC tool) and WorkRight Construction: Your health. Your future – Work Right to keep Britain safe. Risks 1061.
Hazards news, 29 September 2022

Ghana: Children accuse big brands cocoa supplier
A group of 60 Ghanaian children has taken the first steps in legal action against cocoa producer Olam, which supplies big name brands including Cadbury (Mondelez), Nestle, Ferrero and Starbucks, claiming the company is negligent as a result of the unlawful, exploitative and dangerous conditions in which they work.  In their letter, the group aged 5- to 17-years-old, which is the first step in legal proceedings, the children claim that Olam has breached international and Ghanaian laws in relation to hazardous work.
Leigh Day Solicitors news release.
Hazards news, 23 August 2022

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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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
at work

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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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 releaseRisks 745.
Hazards news, 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.
Hazards news, 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
Hazards news, 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 releaseSPLC news releaseUSDA poultry rule webpageCommon DreamsThe Pump HandleUnsafe at These Speeds: Alabama’s Poultry Industry and its Disposable Workers, SPLC, 2013 • Risks 666
Hazards news, 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 researchRisks 661
Hazards news, 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 releaseThe GuardianThe Sun • BBC News Online on the Mark Rutter conviction, Javaid Ali prosecution and Hugo Boss tragedyWorkers' 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 MailRisks 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 lifeRisks 586
Hazards news, 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 disordersRisks 563
Hazards news, 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
Hazards news, 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
Hazards news, 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 safetyHow to lobby your MP on health and safetyThe case for health and safety
We didn't vote to die at work: Campaign briefings, posters and resources • Risks 490
Hazards news, 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 releaseGreen jobs, safe jobs blogRisks 490
Hazards news, 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 releaseRisks 489
Hazards news, 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 SolicitorsRisks 473
Hazards news, 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 figuresRisks 461
Hazards news, 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 initiativeRisks 459
Hazards news, 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 releaseRisks 459
Hazards news, 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 releaseRisks 452
Hazards news, 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 toolRisks 449
Hazards news, 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
Hazards news, 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 releaseHSE releaseRisks 444
Hazards news, 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 websiteSTEPRisks 442
Hazards news, 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 releaseRisks 436
Hazards news, 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 releaseRisk 435
Hazards news, 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 releaseRisks 431
Hazards news, 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
Hazards news, 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 reportBBC News OnlineRisks 426
Hazards news, 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 releaseEuropean trade union MSD campaignRisks 426
Hazards news, 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 releaseRisks 401
Hazards news, 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 campaignRisks 397
Hazards news, 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 GuardianBBC News OnlinePersonnel Today
International RSI Awareness Day, 28 February. TUC RSI webpages and resourcesHazards International RSI Day resourcesCAW International RSI Day briefingILO/CIS RSI Day webpageRisks 395
Hazards news, 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 briefingHazards International RSI Day resourcesTUC RSI webpages and resourcesILO/CIS RSI Day webpageRisks 394
Hazards news, 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 SunThe CitizenThe TelegraphPersonnel TodayUsdaw healthy checkouts guideRisks 387
Hazards news, 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 releaseWales TUC news releaseNorthern TUC news releaseTUC biennial survey of safety reps 2008Risks 380
Hazards news, 1 November 2008

Britain: 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.
Risks 370
Hazards news, 23 August 2008

Britain: Nursery 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.
Risks 370
Hazards news, 23 August 2008

Britain: 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 the office.
Microsoft webpage and report, Ergonomics and repetitive strain injury [pdf]Daily MailRisks 360
Hazards news, 14 June 2008

Australia: Luxury 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.”
LHMU news release, luxury jobs factsheet [pdf] and better hotel jobs campaign website Risks 347
Hazards news, 15 March 2008

India: Computer-based 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.
Risks 345
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.
TUC RSI webpages • Updated UNISON RSI guide [pdf]Risks 345
Hazards news, 1 March 2008

USA: Newspaper 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.”
Charlotte Observer news series and videosRisks 343
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.
Ms Latona Allison (Appellant) and London Underground Ltd, [2008] EWCA Civ 71, Case No: B3/2007/0536, 13 February 2008 • Risks 343
Hazards news, 16 February 2008

Global: International 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.
'Repeat after me' posterHazards magazine strains webpage Risks 343
Hazards news, 16 February 2008

Britain: 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 342
Hazards news, 9 February 2008

Britain: 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.
Risks 341
Hazards news, 2 February 2008

Britain: 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.
Thompsons 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' posterEmail the Hazards Campaign for poster order details Risks 341
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.
Manchester Evening NewsRisks 338
Hazards news,12 January 2008

USA: 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.
LA Union news releaseLA Times
Hazards news, 1 December 2007

Repeat 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‘Repeat after me’ posterEmail 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 Safety Week.
HSE news release
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]Conference papers
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.
CSP news release
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 [abstract]
Hazards news, 18 August 2007

Britain: Upped work rate caused clerk's strain injury
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.
Birmingham Post
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 overall.
CWU news release • CWU safe working on delivery guide [pdf]
Hazards news, 28 July 2007

Britain: Nestlé pays out for tennis elbow cases
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 strain injury.
IUF news release
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.”
Risks 300, 31 March 2007IOSH occupational health toolkit
IOSH 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.
Risks 298, 17 March 2007 • Hazards work and health and compensation webpages

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.”
Risks 275, 23 September 2006 • Hazards work and health webpages

Britain: Over stretched NHS can’t reach strain victims
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.
Risks 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.
Risks 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.
Risks 231, 5 November 2005

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