Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) affect millions of Americans every year. Office staff, supermarket checkout clerks, and construction workers can all fall victim to repetitive stress.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reported that RSI’s are one of the fastest growing occupational injuries. Almost 1 in 3 injuries are due to repetitive stress.
Workers who are at highest risk of getting an RSI often ignore (or misdiagnose) the minor symptoms that can lead up to an injury. They don’t seek medical treatment until the pain gets so severe that they’re unable to perform their job duties. At this point, the damage has already been done and preventative care no longer works.
A repetitive stress injury is a general term used to describe injuries that result from constant repetitive motion. It’s related to the overuse of tendons and muscles and can result from such activities as:
• Repetitive motion
• High-intensity activities
• Bad body posture
• Awkward body positions for long periods of time
• Poorly designed hand tools
RSI’s can affect people in almost any industry out there. Some typical jobs that high a high occurrence of RSI’s are:
• Office workers typing for hours (carpal tunnel)
• Supermarket checkout clerks
• Assembly line workers
• Construction workers
The thing that makes repetitive stress injuries so dangerous is that they can come on very slowly. Years or even decades can go by with very few symptoms. Workers will usually only see a doctor when the pain is too much to bear, and by this time the damage has already been done.
Symptoms of an RSI will differ from person to person. Those who suffer from tendinitis might have a different set of symptoms than those who are suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome. Generally speaking, those who have jobs that require repetitive motion should be on the lookout for upper body parts that are:
• Tenderness and pain
• Lack of muscular endurance
• Tingling or numbness (arm/hand/neck falling asleep)
• Throbbing sensation
The upper body is most affected by RSI’s and can include injuries to the:
• Shoulders and neck
• Hands and wrists
• Elbows and forearms
Symptoms might reside after you’ve rested, taken an Advil, or other over-the-counter pain medication. This kind of pain relief is usually only temporarily, and it will return at the same or greater levels than before. Many people who suffer from RSI’s have stated that the pain tends to be the worst at nighttime, and in some cases can keep them awake at night.
Employers are legally responsible for providing a safe working environment for their employees. OSHA has stated that repetitive stress injuries are preventable and that employers should consider ergonomics as a preventative measure.
Ergonomics is the process of fitting a job to a person. This means the employer should make all efforts to ensure that the worker can perform his/her job without working in awkward body postures or performing the same task repetitively.
If you notice the beginning signs of an RSI, you should immediately contact your employer. Your employer should make reasonable accommodations to ensure that you’re not overexerting yourself or your body. Such accommodations can include (but are not limited to):
• Ergonomic computer keyboard
• Ergonomic office chair
• Providing back/shoulder/wrist braces
• Making suggestions on how to perform the job duties in a reasonable and safe mannerism.
If you think you’re suffering from a work-related repetitive stress injury, you should inform your supervisor or employer immediately.
Your health is your number one concern—choose a doctor you can trust, or you may pay the price later when these so-called “independent” examinations state that there’s nothing wrong with you, or that your injury isn’t even work-related!
Many employers will want you to see someone in their network of doctors. You should be very wary of visiting a doctor that your company suggests—oftentimes these kinds of “company doctors” have a special relationship with employers that could potentially prevent you from getting a fair and accurate diagnosis.
If your employer is giving you a hard time or attempting to inhibit, delay, or prevent you from reporting an injury, you might need to contact a qualified lawyer. A personal injury attorney can help you navigate the complicated waters of filing a workers compensation claim as well as dealing with any roadblocks your job might be attempting to throw up.
If you’ve suffered a repetitive stress injury and would like expert legal advice, give us a call at (801) 746-0290. At David Sanchez Law, we are a workers comp only law firm—meaning we only take on workers comp cases. This enables us to give you the very best legal advice and help you navigate through the sometimes-complex world of getting fairly compensated for your injuries.
We have two offices conveniently located throughout the Intermountain West. One in Murray, Utah and the other in Boise, Idaho. Give us a call or schedule a free case evaluation to learn more about your rights and how we can help you get the justice and relief that you deserve.
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