Accident at Work*

Repetitive Strain Injury Claims*

A Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI)* is the name given to the disorder which causes discomfort and/or pain felt in muscles, tendons and nerves caused by repetitive movement or overuse.

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A Common Type of Workplace Accident

It is a common type of workplace accident claim* and is caused by carrying out repetitive tasks on an ongoing basis. It commonly affects  workers who carry out the same task for a number of hours each day. Repetitive Strain Injuries can arise where workers do not receive sufficient breaks from repetitive work or are asked to carry out an excessive amount of the same work. Such injuries regularly arise in manufacturing  processes involving bulk production of similar items. RSI is a type of Work Related Upper Limb Disorder (WRULD)*. This is the name given to the group of injuries that are commonly caused by overuse, such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Ganglion.

RSI Types

Repetitive Strain Injuries are divided into two groups, known as RSI Type 1 and RSI Type 2.

RSI Type 1

This is the name given to a type of RSI which has a diagnosable medical condition. This would be similar to injuries such as Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Symptoms of type 1 include swelling or inflammation of tendons in hands, wrists or elbows. There is usually visible swelling in these cases.

RSI Type 2

Injuries of this type do not have any specific medical condition attached to them and no specific diagnosis can be given. There are no visible symptoms but there is pain, numbness and a tingling sensation surrounding the affected area. Injuries in this category are often given the name of Diffuse RSI.

Symptoms of RSI

  • Pain and numbness
  • Tenderness of affected area
  • Stiffness
  • Tingling sensation
  • Weakness of the injured area

It is often the case that symptoms present themselves while you are physically carrying out the task but you may still feel pain or discomfort after you have completed the activity and throughout the day. Symptoms can also develop over time and many people may be unaware of this injury until symptoms become more visible.

Causes

  • Overuse
  • Carrying out repetitive activities
  • Working on a production line
  • Inadequate breaks throughout the day
  • Poor Posture or being in an awkward position while carrying out activities
  • Badly designed equipment such as office chairs and keyboards
  • Badly designed workspace
  • Inadequate working environments
  • Repeated use of vibrating tools
  • Heavy lifting
  • Operating machinery or tools

RSI Examples

Bursitis

Fluid filled sac near your joints becomes inflamed and/or swollen.

Tendonitis

Inflamed tendons

Ganglion

Cyst formed when tissue surrounding joints become inflamed. Usually occurs in the wrist of fingers.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Compression of the nerves in your hand that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the thumb or fingers.

Radial Tunnel Syndrome

Occurs from overuse of the arm when pushing and pulling or of the wrist that damages nerves and causes pain in the forearm.

DeQuervain’s Syndrome

Inflammation of the tendons that moderate the movement of the thumb.

Raynaud’s Disease

This overuse injury* occurs when a blood supply is cut off from a particular part of the body – for example, a finger causing pain and in some cases gangrene.

Cubital Tunnel Syndrome

Pain, paralysis or numbness in the ring or little fingers from overuse.

Rotator Cuff Syndrome

Damage to the tendons in the shoulder that hold the shoulder joint in place. This is particularly common in work practices that involve repeated overhead reaching or activity.

Dupuytren’s Contracture

This condition affects the hand in that a person may not be able to fully extend their fingers into an open hand.

Dystonia (Writer’s Cramp)

Involuntary muscle spasm of the fingers and also other parts of the body. This type of overuse injury* can be seen in writers as well as office workers and musicians.

Lateral Epicondylitis (Tennis Elbow)

Conditions affecting the outer part of the elbow. Repetitive twisting can cause this condition.

Medial Epicondylitis (Golfer’s Elbow)

Conditions affecting the inside of the lower arm. Repetitive twisting can bring on this condition.

Treatment for RSI

Treatment will vary depending on the severity of your injury. When making a repetitive strain injury claim* note that as part of your settlement you may be entitled to claim the cost of medical care relating to the injury. 

Some common medical treatments for RSI are:

Medication

In some cases anti-inflammatory medication may be prescribed to help reduce swelling and inflammation of the affected area. Muscle relaxants may also be prescribed to help relieve pain and discomfort.

Splints

You may need to use a split to support the affected area

Temperature

Using hot or cold packs may be a remedy for pain and discomfort

Physiotherapy

Treatment from a physiotherapist may be needed to help you how to manage the injury and what to do to recuperate.

Osteopathy

Similar to physiotherapy, an osteopath may take a more hands-on approach to working the affected area to help relieve pain.

Surgery

In severe cases, a person may need surgery to combat the injury.

Protecting against Repetitive Strain Injury*

All employers have a duty of care to their employees to ensure that their health and safety is looked after. If this duty of care is breached in any way then the risk of injury is going to be higher. An employer has certain duties which will help to ensure the safety of employees and reduce the risk of injury. These duties include;

  • Carrying out regular risk assessments to identify potential hazards
  • Providing the correct equipment needed by employees to carry out their job such as ergonomic keyboards and chairs that help your posture
  • Providing employees with adequate training so that they are aware of what to do if an accident or injury was to occur

Although it is not possible to completely prevent employees from getting injured, an employer should do everything they can to ensure the risk of this is very low. If an employer has failed to put adequate safety measures in place which has resulted in the injury of an employer then they will be found liable for this. A claim can be made against an employer if it is found that their negligence caused an injury or accident or that there was a breach of their duty of care.

For all Places of Work

  • An employer must allow an employee to take regular breaks from repetitive tasks. Tip: set a reminder to take a break from your regular tasks.
  • Stretching – for those who might sit down a lot on the job, whether it be in the office or a driver, for example, stopping, standing and stretching is important.

Specific to Office Workers:

One of the most common RSI’s these days is office workers at their desks. Some of the causes of these injuries are:

  • Ergonomics – the desk, chair and screen should be aligned in an ergonomic fashion so as to prevent injuries – employers should have taken this into consideration.
  • Posture – avoid slouching
  • Typing – keep your wrists arms and fingers aligned when typing, don’t hit the keys too hard
  • Temperature – ensure that it is not too hot or too cold in your working environment where possible.
  • Telephone – for those who need to talk and type at the same time, your employer should provide you with a headset to prevent you from supporting the phone between your face and shoulders – this can lead to injury.

What to do after an accident at work*?

Following an accident at work*, there are a number of steps you should follow:

  1. Seek medical attention

    Your health is your wealth and should be your first priority. Immediately after an accident at work*, take a second to assess yourself to determine if you have any injuries and seek the relevant medical attention. If you have sustained a serious injury ensure that you contact an ambulance to attend the scene.

    For minor injuries, you must remember that minor injuries where you ‘feel fine’ could progress to a more serious injury in the future. In this case it is always better to be safe than sorry and advisable that you go to your nearest accident and emergency (A&E) or local GP to be checked out.

  2. Report the accident

    It is critical to report the accident to your superior, i.e. a supervisor or manager on site. It doesn’t matter how small you think the accident may be. By law, accidents at work* are required to be reported if the person is injured and can’t perform their daily work tasks for more than three days. Make sure to fill out an Accident Report Form. This can be used in reference to any medical examination and will also prevent any similar accidents that could happen in the future.

  3. Identify any witnesses

    If possible, try to collect the contact details of anybody that witnessed the accident. This may be of use if you do decide to pursue a workplace accident claim*. It is also useful to find out if there is any CCTV in the area where the accident happened.

  4. Document the incident

    It is important that you collect all the relevant information in connection with your accident:

    •  How the accident happened
    •  Details of any witnesses
    •  If there are any CCTV recordings of the accident
    • Take pictures of where the accident happened and what caused the accident
  5. Speak to a workplace accident solicitor*

    If you are considering moving forward with a workplace accident claim* for any personal injuries sustained it is advisable that you speak with a workplace accident claims solicitor* as soon as possible. If you are proceeding with a claim, the first step will be submitting your claim to the Injuries Board for assessment. A workplace accident solicitor* can help you in preparing your application to the Injuries Board and ensure that you follow the process in the correct format, meaning that you can move forward with your claim quickly without unnecessary delays.

    It is important to remember to keep copies of any expenses that you have incurred as a result of the accident. It is also imperative to retain copies of medical reports or incident report forms where possible as you will need them when making a claim.

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How do I make a claim?

Once you have gathered all the relevant information in relation to your injury it is then time to move forward with your claim. It is important to use a specialist workplace accident* solicitor to help you with this.

  1. Prepare information for a solicitor

    When you decide you want to move forward with your workplace accident claim* it is important to have all the relevant information to hand when contacting a solicitor. Important information to have on hand at this point is:

    • Date of the accident
    • Location of the accident
    • Details of who/what caused the accident
    • Specifics of what happened
    • Who did you report the accident to?
    • Is there CCTV that may have captured the accident?
    • Details of your injuries
    • Details of hospital or GP attended
    • Any pictures you may have taken of the scene of the accident and/or your injuries
  2. Solicitor becomes your trusted advisor

    As a solicitor is aware of the workplace accident claim* process they can avoid any legal bumps in the road you might encounter if you did this yourself. It is their job to be your trusted advisor on all legal matters throughout your case.

  3. Solicitor obtains a medical report

    One of the most important document in your case is a medical report. Your solicitor will ask for your doctor’s or Hospital details so he can obtain a report on your injuries. This report will then be used to allow us progress your case.

  4. Solicitor prepares the Injuries Board application

    As soon as your solicitor has gathered all the information, your workplace accident claim* will be submitted to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board for assessment. You solicitor will do this for you. Once the Injuries Board assess your claim your solicitor will revert with a suggested settlement amount. At this stage you have a choice to accept the Injuries Board assessment or reject it and move the next steps.

    At this point one of two scenarios will unfold:

    a. If both you and your employer accept the Injuries Board assessment, your case is settled and the person at fault will be ordered to pay settlement to you.

    b. If either you or your employer reject the Injuries Board assessment, then you move to the next stage and your solicitor will issue legal proceedings.

  5. Possible case outcomes

    Before you start to concern yourself with court and everything that comes with it, it’s important to understand that only a very small percentage of cases actually make it to a courtroom.

    Settlement meetings will be arranged where a settlement can be negotiated. Most cases are settled at this point without ever having to step foot into a courtroom and remember it’s your solicitor’s job to be with you every step of the way, right beside you to ensure that your best interests are met at all stages. Your solicitor is to be your trusted advisor throughout the process and to let you focus of your recovery, as they focus on settling your case.

At Tracey’s we make law accessible to all — regardless of your knowledge or experience with the claims process. For more information and a confidential discussion on your workplace accident, phone 01 649 9900 where you can speak with a member of our team straight away, or email ask@traceysolicitors.ie to tell us about your case.

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Case Settlement

If you are to proceed with a workplace accident claim* you may be entitled to claim compensation for the accident and added expenses you may have incurred. These claims are called damages.

General Damages

General damages are non-financial damages such as pain and suffering and/or physical and emotional injuries following a workplace accident*.

Special Damages

Special damages are out of pocket expenses incurred as a result of the workplace accident*, for example, loss of earnings (if you are out of work), medical bills, and added travel costs as a result of the accident (for example, travel to and from the hospital). Learn more about Special Damages

What are the Legal Time Limits?

The statute of limitations are the legal time limits on how long you have to make a claim — these vary depending on the situation. The general rule for most personal injury cases* is that the person has two years from the date of the accident or date of knowledge of the accident* to make a claim for compensation. Contacting a solicitor to discuss your case will help you in determining how long you have left to make a claim.

Learn more about Time Limits

About Tracey Solicitors

We draw on more than 30 years of experience in personal injury law to provide you with expert advice and legal services.

We’re here to help you with your claim, and will work with you to ensure you understand every step of your legal journey.

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