Work-related RSI cases are at an all-time high and the cost to businesses is spiralling, new Microsoft research reveals.
Repetitive strain injury cases have soared by over 30 percent in the last year, costing businesses over £300 million (US$600) in lost working hours - and causing pain and debilitating discomfort to over-worked staff.
Microsoft claims the rapidly emerging trend of 'mobile working' - with office-based employees now working on the move for an average of an hour more per day than they did two years ago using laptops and mobile devices - is behind this alarming climb in work-related injury.
The company arrived at its conclusions in a poll among over 1,000 office workers, HR managers and office managers. This showed rthat 68 percent of office workers suffered from aches and pains, with the most common symptoms including back ache, shoulder pain and wrist/hand pain.
While advances in technology and increasingly demanding workloads have seen a growing trend for staff to work even when not in the office, the report finds a worrying lack of knowledge about the risks.
The findings also show that among office staff suffering symptoms of RSI, nearly a third of them did not associate this with anything work-related and did not report anything to their management. Indeed, of all HR managers surveyed, 76 percent were not aware of the high risk of RSI themselves and 68 percent did nothing when employees reported problems.
The research suggests that one of the main factors behind the high number of injuries is because not enough companies are replacing their existing office equipment with ergonomic hardware that can significantly reduce the risk of RSI.
To add insult to injury, less than half of U.K. workplaces have an ergonomic hardware programme in place and nearly a quarter of workers are not aware if their company even has one.
Experts recommend a number of ergonomic solutions for workers who use desktops and laptops on a daily basis which will dramatically reduce the number of injuries quickly and cost effectively. These include an ergonomic articulating keyboard, monitor arms, footrests, copy holders, ergonomic mice, laptop holders and ergonomic chairs.
John Allen, Managing Consultant at The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) believes there is much 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."