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Schools should teach typing to prevent RSI, says TUC

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Typing should be taught in schools as a way to prevent the suffering of tens of thousands of UK workers from repetitive strain injury (RSI), according to the Trades Union Congress (TUC). The call was made to mark RSI day, which is today.

Poor typing skills are responsible for many cases of RSI, said the TUC, and these cases would be avoided if children were taught to type properly in school.

"Despite the reality that most people are more likely these days to use a computer to write a document than a pen, school children are not routinely being taught how to type," said TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber. "Keyboard skills are not a statutory part of the National Curriculum, although individual schools can decide to introduce them.

"This means that millions of children are missing out on a life skill that could help protect the workforce of tomorrow from this painful and chronic illness," said Barber. "The government should introduce touch typing and keyboard skills into the National Curriculum as soon as possible."

The TUC said 375,000 people in the UK suffer from some kind of musculoskeletal disorder in their upper body that has been worsened by their working conditions.

"One of the causes of RSI is the large number of two-fingered typists who use computers for a considerable part of the working day without any proper keyboard training," said the TUC statement. "The extra force and position of the hands when employees type using only two fingers makes the degree of strain worse, yet few employers even think of providing training for their staff on this very important workplace skill."

The TUC has produced a set of guidelines on how best to avoid falling victim to RSI. They are:

  • You should have enough space to work.
  • The top of your screen should be at eye level and at a comfortable distance away from you.
  • Your forearms should be horizontal.
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor or on a foot rest if you need one.
  • Wrist or palm rests should be provided and there should be space in front of the keyboard to support the hands during pauses in typing.
  • If you do a lot of typing then make sure your employer offers you touch-typing training. Two finger typists are far more likely to get pains in the hand wrist and forearms.
  • You are legally entitled to have your computer equipment and workstation assessed to make sure that it meets your own individual needs.

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