11.12.08  

Defendant partly liable for tenosynovitis sustained as a result of keyboard use.  

Ms Goodwin was employed by Bennetts UK Ltd as an insurance adviser. Following the introduction of a bonus scheme in May 2002 the number of renewals Ms Goodwin did per day increased. In July or August 2002 she was involved in a minor RTA. During the summer of 2002 she started to notice aching in both wrists. She told her line manager about this in August 2002. On 23 October 2002 her GP diagnosed her condition as tenosynovitis and signed her off work for 2 weeks. Despite a reduction in her workload the wrist pain continued and worsened. As a result of other issues Ms Goodwin left Bennetts’ employment in June 2003. At first instance the Judge held that Bennetts had been in breach of the Health and Safety (Display Screen Equipment) Regulations 1992 but that the breaches had not been causative. In addition, he he ld that her symptoms were not caused by her work.  

Held: Ms Goodwin’s pain was aggravated by keyboard work. Bennetts did not plan her activities at all but, had they done so, this would not have required any change to her existing routine. Her workstation and posture were satisfactory and the volume of her work was not such that there was excessive repetition or insufficient rest. However, from November 2002 her workload should have been further reduced. Accordingly Bennetts was liable in negligence and for breach of Regulations 6 and 7 (which require information and training to be provided) for the recurrence of her symptoms in January 2003.  

Comment: Although the Court of Appeal allowed Ms Goodwin’s appeal in part, she was only entitled to damages in respect of the recurrence of her symptoms from January 2003. This was on the basis that by that time her employer should have been on notice that she was suffering from symptoms and should have taken action. The case is a reminder to employers and their insurers that appropriate action must be taken when they are, or should be, aware of an employee’s particular issue or problem.