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Medicine Microsoft The Almighty Buck

Microsoft Study Says Repetitive Strain Injury Costs $600m 169

4roddas writes "Work-related RSI cases are at an all-time high and the cost to businesses is spiraling, new Microsoft research reveals. Repetitive strain injury cases have soared by over 30 percent in the last year, costing businesses over US$600 million in lost working hours — and causing pain and debilitating discomfort to over-worked staff. Microsoft claims the rapidly emerging trend of 'mobile working' — with office-based employees now working on the move for an average of an hour more per day than they did two years ago using laptops and mobile devices — is behind this alarming climb in work-related injury. The company arrived at its conclusions in a poll among over 1,000 office workers, HR managers and office managers. This showed that 68 percent of office workers suffered from aches and pains, with the most common symptoms including back ache, shoulder pain and wrist/hand pain."
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Microsoft Study Says Repetitive Strain Injury Costs $600m

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  • by querist ( 97166 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:18AM (#23666917) Homepage
    I hate to be cynical, but why would Microsoft fund this study? They sell ergonomic keyboards. I wonder if they're coming out with some new ergonomic device, if they are trying to prop up sales of their current line of ergonomic devices, or if their funding of the study was simply an act of generosity (otherwise known as a tax write-off).

    Also, first post?
  • by Icarium ( 1109647 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:24AM (#23667013)
    1. Write software that requires the grunt of a desktop machine to run.
    2. Discredit mobile computing (where you aren't doing so well) by blaming it for a medical condition.
    3. Profit!

    Seriously though, how is it news that performing more of a repetitive action that causes RSI causes (wait for it!) more incidents of RSI?

    I'm more interested in the phenomenon whereby technology that is supposed to make our working lives easier and faster is actually making us work more. (I know, it's not *making* us work more, but why on Earth would anyone want to do more work in more time? Doing the same work in less time, or more work in the same time I can understand).
  • Ironic (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ( 793321 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:27AM (#23667053) Homepage Journal
    Funny how the increase in workhours is mostly due to technology Microsoft introduced themselves, among others. Windows Mobile comes to mind. What a handy business model, when you're the reason and the cure for a popular problem all at once. Greatest invention since the postal undertaker.
  • What OS though? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:35AM (#23667161)
    I've often thought Windows keyboard shortcuts poorly thought out compared to MacOS. On the Mac most shortcuts are based around the Command modifier key which naturally sits beneath your thumb, making most shortcuts a simple reach, whereas on Windows PCs many shortcuts are based around Ctrl which sits under your little finger making even the most simple of key combos more of a stretch... and not a comfortable stretch at that.

    I've never had RSI issues using a Mac (16+ hours per day), whereas I often have pains in my left hand from the overreach required for shortcuts if I have to spend more than a few hours working on one of the Windows boxes in the office.

    It'd be interesting to see the OS split for the data that MS gathered over this RSI issue as I'm convinced that bad ergonomic layout of keyboard shortcuts is a major factor in the problem for anyone sat for long periods of time at a machine.
  • by crisper ( 12620 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:37AM (#23667201) Homepage
    I bet construction workers are sore everyday they work their whole lives. I wonder if it is more the right hand for right handed guys and the left hand for left handed guys.....
  • by Spad ( 470073 ) <> on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:39AM (#23667215) Homepage
    I find I'm much more productive when I'm out of the office and therefore not being interrupted every 30 seconds by someone who wants me to do something for them.
  • by eth1 ( 94901 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @09:54AM (#23667447)
    I was just about to say something similar. Any wrist pain I've ever had has been solved in about 5 minutes by my chiropractor. Ditto for back, knee, neck, etc.

    I don't think the original "injury" is usually caused by the repetitive motions, it's just aggravated by it. Fix the problem, not the symptoms.

    Wish the company would have one on staff, so I didn't have to pay for it, though...
  • by CensorshipDonkey ( 1108755 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @10:22AM (#23667815)
    No one seems to be commenting on what I consider to be an obvious theory: mobile hardware is not ergonomically designed.

    We went through this in the 90's on desktop hardware. There was a rash of repetitive strain injuries, and almost every office made some concession to ergonomics. Keyboard trays that could be precisely positioned, wrist pads and adjustable chairs became the norm. Every office seemed to offer courses on how to avoid RSI's at your desk including how to sit properly, how to position your keyboard properly, etc.

    However, all that training and equipment remains in the office. The Microsoft study points to the rising use of mobile hardware. People work on their laptops holding them hunched over their knees, balanced on books on a couch, etc etc. How many times can you get your laptop positioned at just the right angle for your wrists? How much different is your laptop keyboard's size and aspect ratio from the desktop keyboard? Once your at the optimal distance for typing, do you find yourself bending over to see the smaller, dimmer screen more easily?
  • Cool but useless. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrYak ( 748999 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @10:37AM (#23667983) Homepage
    Those weird martian keyboards definitely look cool, but critically fail to take into account the most important part :
    Nobody stay immobile the whole day with their back straight hand laid down in optimal(c) position(r) the whole day.
    Or if they actually do, they're going to have lots of back and neck pain very fast.

    All these device are optimised for a specific optimal position.
    Whereas, changing position often is critical against back/neck pains.
    Thus these devices aren't polyvalant enough for someone who's going to use them the whole day. I mean they can't even be used one handed (whereas a keyboard can... as proven by countless single /. geeks).
  • by freaker_TuC ( 7632 ) on Thursday June 05, 2008 @10:46AM (#23668089) Homepage Journal
    Studies are showing RSI costs $600m.

    Why is it that money is more important, aside the fact businesses enslave their employees through overwork and deadlines?

    RSI is not only caused by bad positioning, but also by expecting more than which can be given. By stressing the body way overtime.

    What's going to be next ? Sleep deprivation costs businesses $600m ?

    To my opinion the root cause should be talked about instead of the result in an entities wallet.

    Treat the root-problem instead of looking to the consequences only.
  • actually repeatedly moving between keyboard and mouse seems to be the biggest issue. many people I know were just fine for years with text based terminals but have started having problems since moving to GUI based systems, usually affecting the hand that operates the mouse.
  • by lbgator ( 1208974 ) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [uolo.semaj]> on Thursday June 05, 2008 @11:49AM (#23669061)

    Agree that 15:1 sounds crazy - but the more you look into it the more reasonable it seems. Consider the most frequent digraphs: th he an in er on re ed nd ha at en es of nt ea ti to io le is ou ar as de rt ve. On a qwerty you can type only 1 of 27 on the homerow (as). On Dvorak you can type 13 of 27.

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