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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Spike in work-related injury claims predicted as home workers rise

Employers could soon encounter a growing number of claims for musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) as more people start working from home.

1.4 million workers suffering with work-related ill health ©iStock

The warning was made last Friday at a seminar held by Clyde & Co, with the law firm highlighting how half the UK workforce is predicted to work remotely by 2020.

This makes it more likely that staff will encounter poor working conditions by using laptops outside the office and in places like coffee shops and airports, for example.

It is mandatory for all UK organisations to have adequate worker’s compensation insurance for injuries, and a spike in MSDs could have implications for employers.

“Organisations will need to take greater care that their people are not harming themselves through viewing display screens in sub-optimal conditions,” Clyde & Co partner, David Tait said.

“Unless they do this, we will see more and more cases of MSD disorders caused by home-based working.”

MSDs represent around 41% of all employment ill health cases, with 156,000 new reports made last year. Around 1.4 million workers are currently suffering with work-related ill health.

Looking at broader trends for MSDs, Tait said he expects an increase in repetitive back injury claims, and that he had already seen an increase in claims from untraditional employments.

For example, helicopter pilots making claims for back and neck problems due to new-style lifejackets following changes to government safety legislation.

The warning comes after Legal & General announced last week that it had partnered with occupational physiotherapy provider Physio Med to help staff with MSD conditions.

Physio Med will play a role in supporting Legal & General's group income protection early intervention and rehabilitation services.

“Each year, over six million working days are lost due to MSD issues, and we want to reduce these figures,” Legal & General’s benefits and governance director, Vanessa Sallows, said.

"By focusing on rehabilitation, early intervention and high-quality treatment, we can make a difference in helping people return to work where appropriate, benefiting both employer and employee."

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