§ Mr. Wigley
To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what guidelines he has issued to local Department of social security offices concerning the health risks of repetitive strain injury in the workplace.
§ Mr. Scott
Repetitive strain injury is a condition commonly contracted by those who operate visual display units for unreasonably long continuous sessions and/or in an ergonomically incorrect environment.
Since 1987, the Department of Social Security has stipulated that all VDU operators must work in accordance with a departmental information technology agreement. This agreement between management and the trade unions paid particular regard, among other things, to health and safety issues surrounding VDU usage, including ergonomic issues, and restricts the period of continuous operation to safe levels.
Employees were also issued with proprietary literature in 1991 which was intended to increase general awareness of the means by which injury to the wrist, hand and finger can be avoided.
All of the Department's VDUs are being, or have been, assessed to confirm that they comply with the provisions of new health and safety regulations which are effective from 1 January 1993. VDU users are receiving, or have received, further training on practices which will prevent repetitive 76W strain injury. They have also been invited to contribute to the assessment process to ensure that personal ergonomic needs are met.