PostureMinder’s Weblog

January 31, 2008

Compensation Culture?

Filed under: Posture Musings — Dr Phil @ 1:46 pm

A lot of people who see our awarding-winning software take to it from the point of view of reducing the costs of absences and underperformance due to ill-health. Others see it as a cost-effective way to show their concern for the health and well-being of individuals.

There is, of course, another side to all this – the dreaded and much talked about compensation culture!

At the moment, computer-related musculoskeletal disorders such as back, neck and shoulder pain, aren’t really on most companies’ radar from a compensation point of view, or even in terms of general costs. Sure, the odd person will go off sick and need rehabilitation back into work, but in the UK at least most companies are partially insulated from the costs of this through our NHS.

Obviously some costs are incurred through providing private medical treatment, and through covering for absences, but the vast majority of the costs of these conditions are hidden – poor performance, making more mistakes, low morale, staff turnover etc.

In terms of the compensation culture, only RSI-related claims seem to have been brought to-date, and even then only in small numbers. There have been a few prominent cases, such as the bank worker who was awarded £250,000 compensation for developing RSI after not being trained properly.

However, widespread computer use at work or home has only really been with us since the early 90s. As other posts I’ve put up mention, there’s evidence that computer-related musculoskeletal disorders are a widespread and growing problem, especially amongst young people.

The no-win, no-fee lawyers have been very successful with a series of health problems, such as mining illnesses, asbestosis, vibration and hearing injuries. As the number of people employed in manual work continues to reduce, these are likely to dry up as sources of income.

Either the lawyers will need to find new health conditions to focus upon, or the number of lawyers will need to reduce as work dries up. In the history of civilisation, I’m not convinced the number of lawyers had ever decreased at any point!

With getting on for half the workforce using computers on a day to day basis, if I was an injury lawyer I know where I’d be looking. Employers with an eye on the longview shouldn’t just be thinking in terms of meeting their legal obligations – they should be looking to demonstrate that they have gone beyond the bare minimum and taken every reasonable step to look after their staff.

Training and good quality ergonomic furniture are obviously key to that. I believe PostureMinder is a cost-effective addition to this equation – it’s about giving your employees the tools to help themselves. By providing it to employees you’re making a statement that you care.

No-one knows what the future will bring, but it’s always worth taking out a little insurance.

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