RSI – Y our message

I suppose you could best describe me as one of the many people who has been pressured to do several people’s work, and expected to do so, because the computer is given as the reason by managements for minimum staff levels “all you need is a computer to achieve the miracle of increased output”. The employer gets the savings through cutting staff manning levels and the employee or more appropriately, work unit, picks up the tab with RSI. Since mid September when my left arm and wrist basically gave out on me I have been off work and been initiated into the world of Doctors, Consultants, EMG etc etc. I was considered to have CTS symptoms but my Doctor, through the wonders of the NHS, eventually told me the EMG tests were OK but I am now on the dreaded waiting list for surgery at Guy’s Hospital and have been signed of work until 10 January 1999.

Apparently I have a large ganglion on the wrist which is interlaced with tendons plus classic RSI hand, wrist, forearm, elbow and more recently shoulder pain and weakness. My employer, who provides only SSP during absence, anyhow, asked for a medical report from my Doctor, as in their words “your continuing absence is preventing us from employing someone else who could do useful work.” Great man-management skills indeed, bring on the next work unit! My doctor is getting a draft report to me and said he will vigorously support me and submit it following my review and its finalisation. The upshot is that my employer is seeking assurances that “I can return and be able to fulfill all my duties.” otherwise it’s job termination time. I have only just discovered RSI-UK and although a new guy on the block thinks your comments are spot on. I am truly amazed at how many people are being affected.

I only joined my company in January and my problems started to affect me in July, because of the exceptional workload. To my certain knowledge the workstation I had to use or any other were never assessed under Health and Safety requirements in my employment to date. As a newcomer sharing your concerns I would appreciate any comments or advice you or contacts may consider to be appropriate in dealings with employers etc.

Comment 1: The Disability Discrimination Act is supposed to prevent employers from behaving like this. Trouble is there seem to be a lot of loopholes. You might want to ring the Disability Law Service, 0171-831-8031 – they are lawyers and should be able to tell you what your rights are under the DEA. There’s also the Health and Safety Executive who are responsible for enforcing the Display Screen Regulations. If you ring your local branch, you can ask them to look into the unassessed workstation situation. You could also talk to the Disability Employment Adviser at your local Job centre, to see whether you can get assistance under the PACT scheme. Also consider joining the RSI Association 01895 – 431134.

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