When Injuries Happen on the Job, Know Your Rights
Most often, people think of workplace injuries in terms of a single incident – i.e., a trench collapse, a fall from a scaffold or roof, an explosion or another excruciatingly painful, life-altering event. Yet most injuries on the job are the result of repetitive movements that are performed day after day, over and over again, for months or even years. In fact, repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) comprise the largest single category of workplace injuries—far surpassing most other injuries. If you are a worker in the U.S., you have a one in eight chance of developing an RSI during your lifetime.
Moreover, RSIs don’t fall under any one precise definition. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the agency responsible for enforcing federal workplace safety laws, there are more than 100 types of job-induced injuries and illnesses that result from wear and tear on the body.
RSIs tend to sneak up on workers over time. The action that leads to one doesn’t necessarily have to be stressful or physically challenging. Yet when repeated throughout the day, day in and day out for months or even years, it has a cumulative effect that can cause considerable pain and inhibit one’s ability to perform even routine tasks.
RSI Risks Can Lurk in Nearly Any Job
RSIs certainly occur through use of vibratory tools such as jackhammers. Yet office workers are just as likely – if not more likely – to suffer from RSIs as a result of computer use throughout the day. In today’s Information Age, computers run nearly every aspect of so many businesses. And with that comes the task of physically managing data entry—from typing emails to generating invoices, performing data entry and more. As a result, the most common type of RSI involves injury to the hands and arms. Carpal tunnel syndrome, defined as the pinching of nerves caused by swelling of tissues in the wrist, bursitis, defined as the swelling of cushions between bones, and tendonitis, defined as tears in tissue connecting muscles and bones, are some examples of office-related RSIs.
Of course, physical jobs are rife with RSIs. Any job that requires repeated motion – whether it’s pounding nails with a hammer or pounding keys on a supermarket cash register – can cause RSIs. Besides manufacturing, distribution and construction, occupations that run a high potential risk for RSIs include automotive mechanics, assembly line workers, food service workers (and notably, butchers), musicians and drivers.
How to Tell if You Have an RSI
Detecting RSIs can be difficult in the early stages, and too often, the symptoms are fully developed by the time a worker decides to take action or seek medical treatment. Some workers may notice RSI signs early on, but don’t seek treatment because they may think the pain and stress are due to aging, or simply an unfortunate consequence of the job they’re working. They accept it for what it is and shrug it off. Others may fear losing their jobs as a result of seeking treatment or filing claims.
So what are the warning signs of RSIs? According to medical and OSHA officials, they include a dull or achy pain in the limbs, tingling or numbness in the fingers or arms, weakness or a loss of coordination, or fatigue.
Officials recommend that, if you are experiencing any such symptoms, you should note when in the day they most frequently occur and what activities you’ve been performing when the symptoms occur. Doing so can give your doctor valuable information to help determine the cause and recommend a treatment.
Thankfully, workers have rights when it comes to RSIs. Through workers’ compensation, workers can recover for RSIs. If you believe you have an RSI, you should make a timely workers’ compensation claim—and, you should seek the care of a medical professional as soon as you recognize any measurable job-related pain, loss of motion, flexibility or strength, tingling or numbness, or similar bodily discomfort.
Note that workers’ compensation laws prohibit employers from firing or disciplining employees for filing claims. By law, therefore, you won’t be penalized for taking action to alleviate your RSI. If any action is taken against you for that, you need to seek immediate help from an experienced workers’ compensation attorney.
No Cost Evaluation
If you, a family member or a friend has sustained a repetitive stress injury on the job, your rights are at stake—you need to seek immediate legal advice. At Nager, Romaine & Schneiberg Co., L.P.A., our workers’ compensation attorneys may be able to help you pursue compensation for the pain and suffering that you have been forced to endure. The experienced workers’ compensation lawyers of NRS have handled a variety of repetitive stress injury cases over many years; we fight side by side with injured victims to make sure they and their families receive compensation for negligence that caused them to be hurt. We will aggressively pursue your case and work to help you obtain the medical care and compensation you need to rebuild your life.
In the event you or a loved one has sustained a repetitive stress injury on the job, contact the workers’ compensation attorneys at NRS Injury Law by filling out our No-Risk Consultation form, or call (855) GOT-HURT and speak with one of our trained staff members.