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FAQs - Upper Limb Disorders

What are ULDs?

Answer: Upper limb disorders (ULDs) affect the arms from shoulder to fingers or the neck including problems with the soft tissues, muscles, tendons and ligaments, along with the circulatory and nerve supply to the limb.

What causes a ULD

Answer: Because most injury happens as a result of incorrect posture, working in unusual positions, or heavy lifting/carrying the most effective way to reduce the risk is to:

What are the symptoms?

Answer: Stiffness or pain from joints and inability to straighten or bend those joints. Aches and pains, tenderness, stiffness, weakness, tingling, numbness, cramp and swelling to muscles of the arms or the neck.

These symptoms may suggest overuse or damage to the limb or some underlying condition, if you are concerned please speak to your Doctor/GP

How can I prevent ULDs

Answer: Because most injury happens as a result of incorrect posture, working in unusual positions, or heavy lifting/carrying the most effective way to reduce the risk is to:

I am required to constantly use a computer – my wrists/shoulders are always aching. What must my employer do and how can I relieve the symptoms?

Answer: Employers have duties under the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 to assess and reduce risks, ensure workstations meet minimum requirements, plan work so there are breaks or changes of activity, provide eye tests on request, and provide health and safety training and information.

You should ask for a DSE assessment and explain the problems you are experiencing. There are some simple steps you can take that can help you avoid aches and pains, such as adjusting your chair and VDU equipment to find a comfortable position, using good keyboard and mouse technique, and varying your activities or taking breaks to avoid sitting in the same position for long periods.
There is more detailed advice in Working with VDUs.

What law applies to ULDs?

Answer: Employers have legal duties under:

These duties include ensuring the health, safety and wellbeing of employees at work, and assessing and reducing potential risks to their health, safety and wellbeing. For ULDs this risk assessment may be done as part of a workstation assessment and putting in place such reasonable adjustments as the assessment requires.

Updated 2012-09-05