Company Held Partly Liable for RSI
Ms Goodwin was employed as an insurance adviser for a major motor cycle insurance company. Following the introduction of a bonus scheme, the number of renewals Ms Goodwin did per day increased.
Following her involvement in a minor road traffic accident, she started to notice aching in both wrists. She told her line manager about this and her GP diagnosed her condition as tenosynovitis and signed her off work for 2 weeks.
Despite a reduction in her workload, the wrist pain continued and worsened. As a result of other issues Ms Goodwin left her employment.
At first instance the Judge held that the employer had been in breach of the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 but that the breaches had not been causative. In addition, he held that her symptoms were not caused by her work. Ms Goodwin’s pain was aggravated by keyboard work.
The employer did not plan her activities at all but, had they done so, this would not have required any change to her existing routine. Her workstation and posture were satisfactory and the volume of her work was not such that there was excessive repetition or insufficient rest. However, her workload should have been further reduced.
Accordingly the company was liable in negligence and for breach of Regulations 6 and 7 (which require information and training to be provided) for the recurrence of her symptoms.
The Court of Appeal allowed Ms Goodwin’s appeal in part, and she was entitled to damages in respect of the recurrence of her symptoms. This was on the basis that her employer was informed that she was suffering from symptoms and should have taken action.
The case is a reminder to employers and their insurers that appropriate action must be taken when they are, or should be, aware of an employee’s particular issue or problem. DSE Risk Assessments should be carried out for all habitual display screen equipment users, and the risk assessment should be reviewed as and when there is any change which effects the validity of the original assessment.