It is important for business management to develop and promote sound health and safety policies and to consider, not only the legal requirements and the possibility of prosecution, but also the possibility of an employee personal injury claim.
The number of work related personal injury claims and especially those relating to Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), an umbrella term normally used to describe Work Related Upper Limb Disorders (WRULD), seem to be rising.
RSI is not a recognised medical condition, more a medical term. There are two types: type 1 RSI with recognised, specific pathological conditions and type 2 RSI non specific pain syndrome (NSPS) or Diffuse RSI, which as the name suggests is difficult to diagnosis. Some medical practitioners unable to establish its cause do not accept the existence of it. Consequently, over the years it has been at the centre of much medical and legal discussion.
The underlying cause behind the increase in claims maybe partly the fault of administering the health and safety policy of UK employers, as well as a greater awareness amongst workforces of the medical term RSI. However, combining both with the rise of no-win, no-fee legal services being advertised, it is perhaps understandable why the number of personal injury claims is rising.
This essay will identify the main sources and routine functioning of the English legal system and research and report on the developing area of law involving RSI.
Health and Safety Act
The health and safety of employees in the workplace is protected by legislation provided under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASAWA) and its applicable regulations.
The development of health and safety law dates back to the early 19th century, and the start of the Industrial Revolution. Parliament passed the first law in 1802, named, Health and Morals of Apprentices Act, which was to improve the conditions of child labour. “An Act for the preservation of health and morals of apprentices and others employed in cotton and other mills and other factories”. The act was the first effort to regulate factory working conditions and was important not only for the child labour improvements, but also significantly influenced further legislation and its future direction.
Further legislation followed. Some of the most significant included the Factory Act 1833, empowering Crown inspectors to introduce and enforce health and safety. The Ten Hours Act of 1847, followed by the Factory and Workshop Act in 1878 dictated working hours and minimum employment age. The Factory Act 1901 covered employment and the education of children, night work, fire, and overtime pay. In1937 the Factories Act legislated the first complete system for safety, health and welfare requirements applicable to all factories and in 1961 new and existing legislation was consolidated and expanded to cover all workplaces, in the Factories Act 1961.
Whereas all previous legislation was...