UK businesses, particularly smaller firms, are being hit hard in the pocket as work-related repetitive strain injury (RSI) cases rocket, according to new research from Microsoft.
Coining the term ‘BlackBerry Thumb’, Microsoft claimed millions of hours are being lost each year due to employees suffering from the ailment and being unable to work.
In turn, this is creating a sales opportunity for the channel Microsoft claims, with demand for ergonomic accessories and peripherals such as keyboards, chairs, monitor arms, footrests, copy holders, mice and laptop holders, increasing.
The research, carried out by market watcher StrategyOne on behalf of Microsoft, questioned over 1,000 office workers, HR managers and office managers, points to the rise of mobile working, with employees using mobile devices and laptops longer than before.
According to the figures, 68 per cent of office workers suffered from aches and pains with the most common symptoms including backache, shoulder pain and wrist/hand pain as a result of working in transit in cramped conditions. The research claimed that those working for smaller companies were most at risk.
Microsoft’s research also claimed that nearly a third of staff did not associate their RSI symptoms with anything work related and failed to report it to management. In addition, 78 per cent of all HR managers were unaware of the risks of RSI and 68 per cent did nothing when employees raised the question.
Sophie Barnave-Gaffney, a Microsoft representative, said: “Clearly, there is an enormous lack of understanding about the need for ergonomics within the work environment and Microsoft has recognised that companies and employees can benefit enormously by implementing a few simple and cost effective measures.”
John Allen, managing consultant at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said there is more employers can do to minimise the risk. "We are shocked that this research indicates that the number of office injuries is on the increase due to companies not taking the right actions in investing in their staff's well being. This issue needs to be addressed and companies should start assessing the risks and investing in ergonomic solutions where they are needed. "
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