Derby no win no fee claim

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Repetitive strain injury

The majority of this group of injuries are to the hands, wrists, elbows and shoulders and for that reason the term ‘upper limb disorders’ (ULDs) is commonly used. When these are caused occupationally, they are known as ‘work-related upper limb disorders’ (WRULDs).

Within the terminology of ULD  conditions such as lateral and medial epicondylitis (tennis and golfer’s elbow), tenosynovitis, peritendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome are the most commonly diagnosed. Each describes a disease or injury which can be also caused by constitutional factors unrelated to work. The question of whether each condition is work-related is a factual matter resolved by expert (usually medical) evidence. Since most of these medical conditions  may be related to work but may also be related to other causes, causation will almost always be in issue.

An employer must have had actual or constructive knowledge that the work carried an inherent, specific and not insignificant risk of injury as a condition precedent to a finding that the employer breached its duty.

What the employer ought to have known about the risks in the workplace is all that the employer would have known had it carried out a suitable and sufficient risk assessment as required by the general duty to assess risks under reg 3 of the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999.

The Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 are directly relevant to the origin of upper limb disorders developing as a result of work relating to keyboard work .

The regulations impose differing obligations on the employer in relation to three classes of worker, each of whom is defined as a person ‘who habitually uses display screen equipment as a significant part of his normal work’. There are ‘operators’ who are self-employed; and ‘users’ who are employees, in turn sub-divided into those employed by the employer and those employed by someone else. Whether display-screen work is a habitual and significant part of normal work will be a question of fact. The guidance suggests a number of indicative tests (eg usage of an hour or more a day, more or less daily) with examples (eg secretary, journalist, air traffic controller, graphic designer). There is no restriction on the location of the user or operator. Accordingly, home workers will be covered.

The principal duty under the regulations is for employers to perform ‘a suitable and sufficient analysis of … workstations … for the purpose of assessing the health and safety risks’ for both classes of ‘users’ (in respect of workstations used for the employer’s undertaking no matter who provided them) and ‘operators’ (in respect of workstations used for the employer’s undertaking and provided by it). This is a particular application of the general duty to carry out risk assessments under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, reg 3.

Regulation 2(3) requires that in consequence of an assessment (pursuant to reg 2(1) or (2)) the employer shall reduce the risks identified to the lowest extent reasonably practicable.

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