Work-related upper limb disorder claims

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Howard Willis

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A guide to making a No Win No Fee work related upper limb disorder claim

According to a recent report by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the number of new cases of upper limb disorders (ULD) between 2013 and 2014 was 87,000. These cases included a range of work-related musculoskeletal complaints in the neck, shoulder, hand, wrist, elbow and fingers.

Brought on by continually repetitive or strenuous activities, if a person is affected by a work-related upper limb disorder, an employer could be held liable if they failed to effectively manage and control the risks associated with the condition.

Which medical conditions are considered to be work-related upper limb disorders?

Upper limb disorders affect the muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves or other soft tissues in the upper limbs. They include repetitive strain injury (RSI), cumulative trauma disorder and occupational overuse syndrome.

Caused or made worse by work, some of the most common work related upper limb disorders seen in compensation claims include:

Diagnosing the condition

Common symptoms which form the basis of a diagnosis and a work-related illness claim are: tenderness; swelling; aches and pains; stiffness; weakness, numbness; tingling and cramp.

An upper limb disorder will be diagnosed as a work-related upper limb disorder if it can be shown that it was caused by a work related activity or process. Doctors have plenty of experience with ULDs and, as such, are often able to identify the cause by elimination and through asking questions about a person's work activities.

Common occupations associated with the condition include:

  • Construction worker (notably one who uses hand or power tools, particularly ones that vibrate)
  • Carpenter
  • Gardener
  • Key board operator
  • Assembly line worker
  • Kitchen staff (who prepare food)

If a work-related disease is diagnosed, treatment will be recommended. The person affected should escalate this to their employer so they can make changes to improve the working processes or conditions.

Is an employer liable for such compensation claims?

Yes - if it can be proved that the employer failed to adequately protect the individual from the condition which they have acquired. This could be RSI sustained by a data entry operator or vibrating arm syndrome suffered by a stump grinder worker. Employers are required by law to protect their workers from avoidable harm. Both the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, stipulate what an employer must do to manage and control the risks associated with work related upper limb disorders.

This includes carrying out a full risk assessment of the work environment, identifying dangers as well as those likely to be affected. The HSE recommend that the employer consider:

  • Whether an action will be repeated
  • If the working position is comfortable
  • Whether force or manual handling is required
  • If the task will continue for an extended period
  • The working environment
  • How the work is controlled

Other regulations exist relevant for specific tasks, such as the Display Screen Equipment Regulations 1992. Employers should also comply with the requirements of these.

When they do not follow the correct procedures, this is when they would be considered negligent and therefore liable.

How much can you claim for work-related upper limb disorder compensation?

Although symptoms may start off as mild, they can become more problematic if not dealt with at an early stage. Eventually the symptoms may become debilitating, preventing a person for carrying out everyday tasks or from being able to do their job.

Treatment can involve anything from resting the affected limb to having a series of physiotherapy sessions. In some cases, this may not be enough and the person affected may have to stop working in the same job due to ongoing pain or symptoms.

Compensation can help cover medical bills and treatment, as well as other financial, social and emotional losses.

To find out how much compensation you could claim, and how much of that award or settlement you could keep after solicitor fee deductions, calculate your claim here.

Understanding No Win, No Fee agreements

No Win, No Fee upper limb disorder claims commence once the Claimant agrees, with a solicitor, a Conditional Fee Agreement, also known as a "CFA",.

The Conditional Fee Agreement is, in essence, the terms and conditions between the solicitor and you.

The agreement explains the work your lawyer delivers in addition to the success fee to be taken from the compensation once they win your claim.

Selecting a Quittance injury-specialist solicitor, you will be able to prioritise your rest and recovery, knowing that there will be nothing whatsoever to pay at the outset.

What to do next

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Making the right decision depends on the right information. Get any questions answered before you make a decision.

Find answers to popular questions asked by potential Claimants in the frequently asked questions section.

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