Charity administrator awarded compensation after excessive use of computer led to repetitive strain injury
A woman whose life was blighted by repetitive strain injury after prolonged use of a computer at work has received a five-figure compensation pay-out after successfully challenging her employer.
The 31-year old charity administrator would routinely spend in the region of eight hours a day keying data into a computer as part and parcel of her role, whilst also regularly tasked with taking down notes by hand in meetings which she’d subsequently be asked to type up. In addition to this the personal injury claimant was also responsible for arranging appointments for senior staff via her email.
The physical problems really began to take hold as her workload increased, with lunch breaks often worked through and an extra two hours being pinned on the end of her working day became common practice.
On top of this, the claimant’s managers demanded that the woman disable a keyboard usage monitoring function which apparently all keyboards provided by her employers were equipped with and which as a piece of software logged data regarding accumulative keyboard depressions over a period of time. The woman was ordered to switch it off so as to achieve more work according to further investigations carried out by the personal injury claims solicitor she approached to pursue litigation on her behalf, along with the findings of her union representatives at Unite; with whom she was a member.
Shortly after experiencing the persistent pains in her wrist, the woman in question made an appointment with her GP who in turn confirmed a medical diagnosis of repetitive strain injury (RSI).
As a result of this the woman took three months off work to recover, after which she participated in what’s described as a ‘phased return’ programme. Unfortunately the pain in her hands was unrelenting on her return, and she was forced to take further time off work, shortly after which the woman was handed her redundancy notice. She is no longer physically able to facilitate computers on a full-time employment basis due to the subsequent injuries and has instead found an alternative vocation in the academic study sector which affords her a more flexible approach to work.
After seeking professional legal advice and assistance from both her union, Unite and a specialist personal injury claims solicitor, the woman was guided in the pursuit of compensation from her former employer, which ultimately saw her being awarded £30,000 in associated damages.
Recalling the point at which she first became aware of the RSI and how it began to take effect, the successful claimant said; “When I first started getting the pains in my wrist I couldn’t understand what was happening. It was taken for granted that we would be working on computers all day, above and beyond our working hours, and we weren’t ever told about the dangers of excessive use of a keyboard.”
She went on to say; “The pain has made things like getting dressed extremely difficult, and I’ve had to adapt my daily routine around my injury.”
A spokesperson for Unite Union added; “The fact that the employer actively told staff to go around a programme that was created to protect them completely defeats the object of having it in the first place.”