Information for workers
If you think you may be suffering from an upper limb disorder (ULD) that may be caused or aggravated by your work there are things you can do to help yourself and also help your employer to help you.
If you have any symptoms described in the section 'What are ULDs?' you should tell your manager, supervisor, health and safety representative or other employee representative.
The type of symptoms you should be particularly aware of are:
- redness or swelling
It is important that you report these symptoms as soon as possible (along with any others which are concerning you) as help could be available.
Overall you should not panic if you are suffering symptoms. People with ULDs usually completely recover if the problem is recognised early and treated appropriately. Also once your employer knows about problems in the workplace something can be done to reduce the likelihood of the problem recurring once you have recovered.
What your employer should be doing:
- Your employer has a duty to do something if there is a problem which your work is causing or if it is aggravating existing symptoms.
- Your employer may have systems in place to collect reports of symptoms. You should comply with these as they are intended to give the employer information about whether there is a problem with the work you are involved in.
By reporting symptoms early, your employer will have information from which he can assess whether there is a problem and they may want to observe your job. Other workers may be having similar problems and unless someone reports the problem it may not be tackled. There may need to be adaptations to your workplace such as the tools or equipment you use, or to the organisation of the work such as rest breaks, pace of the work, or the work environment such as the temperature or lighting. These adaptations may be permanent and apply to a group of workers or may be temporary and specific for you as an individual while you are dealing with a current problem or recovering from your symptoms.
What help may be available for dealing with your symptoms?
Your employer may be able to refer you to an occupational health provider for some medical help.
An occupational health provider will:
- Be able to assess your symptoms and may diagnose a specific condition if you have one.
- Ask about your work tasks to try to determine what the main contributors may be.
If your workplace does not have access to this type of support you may need to go and see your GP and explain to them the symptoms you have and the type of work that you do. They should be able to provide some help and advice on your specific problem or refer you to another health professional who can.
Occupational health advice for employees
If you need help to quickly and effectively address the issue of employee health, minimise the impact of staff illness, and provide essential support to staff with physical or mental health issues you can contact:
- Fit for Work Fit for Work provides free, confidential and impartial work-related health advice to employers and employees, and offers expert help from occupational health professionals to help people return to work after sickness absence.
- Healthy Working Lives The free Health for Work Adviceline in Scotland.
- Healthy Working Wales The free Health for Work Adviceline for Small Business in Wales.
- Manual handling at work: A brief guide
- Managing upper limb disorders in the workplace
- Manual handling assessment charts
- Risk assessment of pushing and pulling (RAPP) tool
- Making the best use of lifting and handling aids