We see this through the training and assessments we are providing to clients and it appears to be because:
- Many of us are working harder and for longer hours.
- Most see RSI injuries as trivial – that they will just go away.
- Many do not report problems.
Yet early intervention means simple changes are often sufficient to prevent longer term health issues developing. The HSE has reported 3.6 million working days were lost in 2009/10 due to upper limb issues and these will include people working on computers.
It is well known that computer workstations or equipment can be associated with neck, shoulder, back or arm pain, as well as with fatigue and eyestrain. In fact, surveys have found that a high proportion of DSE workers report aches, pains or eye discomfort. However most of these conditions do not indicate any serious ill health, but it makes sense to make an assessment.
These aches and pains are sometimes called upper limb disorders (ULDs), which can include a range of medical conditions such as RSI. It doesn’t mean that DSE work is risky – it isn’t. ULDs can be avoided if users follow effective practice, set up their workstations properly and take breaks during prolonged use. By just taking a few simple precautions, work with DSE can be more comfortable and productive.
So why is that long term health issues develop? It seems to us that the following are connected to this:
- Generally it starts with a minor ache that is often overlooked.
- People tend not to have treatment – which means tissue irritation, and damage progresses.
- Soft tissues and structures heal very slowly – due to lack of blood supply.
The cure will often require rest from the activity that has caused the problem; and this can require long periods.
There are some tell-tale signs of RSI and these can include:
- Tingling in the fingers – usually due to compression of a nerve
- Deep aching pain in the wrist – often gets worse as the day progresses
- Pain when getting dressed – especially when a shoulder condition develops
- Aching over outside of the elbow – tenderness and pain can affect the ability to lift a cup or using a keyboard
- Lumps & bumps – when soft tissues become irritated or damaged they become swollen
So what can be done? This normally involves supplying the right equipment; correct setting up of the workstation, providing training (as employees need to understand the risks and actions to take). Additionally, it is very important to ensure they seek early medical intervention. All of this should be dealt with on a good quality DSE assessment by someone that properly understands the risks and solutions.