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Computer-related injuries and accidents at work

As we wave goodbye to paper shuffling and industries worldwide become more reliant on the computer as a work tool, many computer-related conditions as a result of injuries or accidents at work are coming to light.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported that during 2004/05, 28 million working days were lost due to work-related ill health. Further, during this period 2 million were suffering from an illness they believed was caused or made worse by their current or past work position. Read more about the Health and safety Executive.

Repetitive Strain Injury

Essentially, the term Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI) refers to how the injury was sustained and those working in professions which necessitate a repetitive movement of the hands, fingers, wrists or arms are at highest risk of developing RSI.

RSI can be caused by performing regular movements such as typing and adopting a poor typing posture. Symptoms of RSI include numbness and pain to the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders and neck.

A range of conditions including tendonitis, Carpel Tunnel Syndrome and bursitis are all included under this umbrella term. Other common terms used to describe such personal injuries include Cumulative Trauma Disorders (CTD), Work-related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULD), Occupational Overuse Injuries (OOI) and Work-related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD).

According to the Trade Unions Congress (TUC), 1 in 50 workers are suffering from Repetitive Strain Injury in the UK, many of which work in professions where computer use is predominant. Read more about the TUC.

Back and neck injury

An increase in computer-related tasks and the introduction of an internal email communication system means that workers are rarely required to leave their desks. Extensive time in a seated position can contribute to back and neck injuries, especially when sitting with a poor posture.

Sitting for long periods can lead to pain in the lumbar region and agitate pre-existing back injuries such as sciatica. Sciatica occurs when the sciatic nerve becomes irritated, causing cramping, a tightening of the muscles and regular shooting pains.

Office workers may experience stiffness to the neck when stooping or leaning at an angle to see a paper document while typing or when cradling a telephone between their head and shoulder.

The chances of sustaining a back or neck injury as a result of working at a computer can be heightened by not taking enough breaks in which you actively leave your desk and have a walk around or sitting at a work station that has not been configured correctly.

Those that work from home should especially make sure that they schedule in regular breaks to their working day as it is easy to forget and become absorbed in work when you don't have the distraction of co-workers.

Home workers should also employ the science of ergonomics when designing their workstation. A monitor should be placed on a computer desk so that it stands at the correct height. A stable, five-legged office chair which provides lumbar support, adjustable armrests, a slightly inclined backrest, height adjustable seat and a high backrest or headrest are also advisable.

In 2004/05 around three-quarters of self-reported work-related illness were musculoskeletal disorders, with the back being the most affected area, according to HSE statistics. Read more about statistics relating to accidents at work.

Vision problems

It is estimated that 75% of computer workers have eye and vision problems. These include headaches, blurred vision, eye strain, aching eyes, stinging eyes, focussing disorder and fatigue. These may be caused by poor lighting, continuous close work or VDU glare.

Lighting should be bright enough that you can read any paper documents but not more than 10 times brighter than your computer's monitor. Working with some natural light is the best option.

When exposed to glare, the eye is forced to work harder to adjust to varying light intensities and this can lead to eye fatigue. Anti-glare filters can be added to monitors to reduce VDU glare.

It is recommended that employees have a break from looking at a computer screen for approximately 10 minutes in every hour they spend looking at it. However, tight deadlines and fire-breathing bosses make taking breaks this regularly seem implausible.

But it is worth employers remembering that an employee with tired eyes and a splitting headache is unlikely to be as productive as his well-rested, bright-eyed co-worker.

Making a no win no fee claim for an accident at work

If you have been involved in an accident at work or sustained a work-related injury or illness then our personal injury solicitors may be able to help you claim compensation from your employer.

We have a wealth of experience in dealing with such cases and we're sure you'll agree that our excellent success rate speaks for itself. We will talk you through each stage of the claim process, offering free legal advice and fighting to get you the most compensation available. Read more about compensation amounts.

We work on a no win no fee service.  This means that our clients don't pay a penny in up front costs.  What's more, if you lose your case, you won't pay anything at all.  No win, no fee, is exactly what it sounds like. Read more about making a no win no fee claim.

To start your compensation claim following an accident at work call 0800 197 32 32 today.