A number of existing and former immigration officers are planning to take legal action against the Home Office after developing Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI).
12 people are claiming compensation for RSI after concluding that problems in their arms and shoulders came about as a result of their day-to-day work. The employees were frequently required to lean out of the windows at ferry port booths in order to scan people's passports, KentOnline reports.
All 12 went on to display symptoms of RSI and they are claiming that their health problems have come about as a result of their working conditions. Furthermore, they argue that the state should be held liable for their ailments and that they are entitled to compensation for RSI.
There is a precedent for this type of case, with the Home Office recently having to pay compensation to two employees who successfully argued that their years working in immigration led to their current physical difficulties.
ISU: Issue Must be Dealt With
The Immigration Services Union (ISU) wants the latest round of legal action to prompt officials to make sure immigration staff can enjoy a safe and comfortable working environment.
Lucy Moreton, general secretary of the organisation, commented, "The ISU hopes managers will now address these issues rather than sweep them under the carpet."
She said management have been made aware of the "appalling conditions" workers must endure on many occasions in the past.
People Must Know What is Happening, says Claimant
Pamela Smith, one of the people who is taking legal action after developing RSI, believes the public must be made aware of the situation and what immigration workers have to contend with.
"I was treated appallingly," she commented. "They refused to accept that the job had caused the problem and it ended my career. They were just trying to cover themselves."
Ms Smith revealed that she and her colleagues often had to work particularly long hours, as the port booths were short-staffed. As a result, many people had to spend "hours on end leaning in and out of the window".
She stated that she is "living proof" of the serious consequences that can arise from RSI, as she suffers from constant pain and believes she is unable to find employment elsewhere.
Ms Smith urged anybody who is working in the sector and is suffering from pain in their shoulder to get it checked by a specialist "now before it's too late".
HSE: Upper Limb Disorders are Common
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) believes that upper limb disorders, such as RSI, are particularly common in workplaces in the UK.
According to figures from the regulator, an estimated 374,000 people in the country suffered from a problem in their upper limb that was either caused or exacerbated by their job.
The HSE stated that many different kinds of work can lead to upper limb disorders, particularly tasks that involve uncomfortable working postures and highly repetitive jobs.
Employers are legally required under health and safety law to ensure that any risks associated with work-related ULDs are adequately managed and controlled.