Shorter, tougher life for left-handers

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The Independent Online

Left-handed people are suffering injuries and premature death because equipment at workplaces is designed solely for the use of right-handers, a trade union said yesterday.

Left-handed people are suffering injuries and premature death because equipment at workplaces is designed solely for the use of right-handers, a trade union said yesterday.

The General, Municipal and Boilermakers' union, which represents an estimated 225,000 left-handed workers, said that the design bias causes repetitive strain injury (RSI) among left-handed employees.

In support of its argument, the GMB quoted a 1991 study by Professor Stanley Coren which found that significantly more left-handers were killed in accidents and, on average, died nine years before their right-handed counterparts. Equipment for right-handed people designed by right-handed people forces left-handed workers to make damaging, unnatural and awkward movements, the union said.

To mark today's International Left-Handers Day, Kim Sunley, GMB health and safety researcher, called on designers and employers to make it easier for left-handers, who make up 13 to 30 per cent of the British population.

RSI, a soft-tissue injury, can result from poorly designed keyboards and using a mouse, and can cause permanent tissue damage and disability in extreme cases.

A spokesperson for GMB disputed claims that the union had overreacted: "We are trying to celebrate left-handedness. But left-handers do live in a world that's the wrong way round."

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