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Repetitive Stress is a Common Source of Workplace Injuries

Apr 24, 2015 - Workers' Compensation/Work Injury by

Variety may be the spice of life, but just about every job involves some degree of repetition. Whether individuals perform one part of a manufacturing process or write key reports, proposals or correspondence on a computer for eight hours every day, their activities can put stress on the same part of their bodies. The resulting injuries can be serious — and they typically qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) do not typically occur as the result of accidents; however, they are conditions that often directly relate to on-the-job activities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports them as musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), which accounted for an alarming 33 percent of all injury and illness cases in 2013. All too often, injured workers need help from our Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation attorneys due to the challenges of substantiating their claims.

Common Types of RSIs

Anyone who has hammered one too many nails has probably experienced soreness to the wrists and hands. This type of pain generally goes away within a few days; however, injuries like these can become permanent and debilitating for individuals who hammer nails every day. The following parts of the body commonly sustain RSIs that qualify for workers’ compensation claims:

  • Hands and wrists: A number of years ago, Harvard Gazette dispelled the common believe that excessive use of computers can cause carpal tunnel syndrome, which is no longer classified as repetitive stress. Nonetheless, this disorder is common to assembly line workers, and computer use can cause RSIs, particularly for individuals who work in non-ergonomic environments.
  • Neck and shoulders: Keeping in mind that the head weighs 12 to 15 pounds, it is not surprising that workers who look down at their work all day or even cradle phones on their shoulders for long periods of time can experience muscle soreness, spasms, numbness or tingling that can radiate downward to the arms and even the legs. Good posture helps, but without proper workspace alignment and tools, the pain can become chronic.
  • Back: Even a person who sits in an uncomfortable chair all day can experience back pain but factory, warehouse and construction workers are most likely to suffer severe repetitive stress injuries in their backs. These injuries often lead to long-term or permanent disability. Anyone who operates heavy devices, like jackhammers, regularly assumes unnatural twisting positions to do their jobs or often lifts heavy objects, which can result in serious back injuries that may qualify for long-term or even permanent disability from workers’ compensation.

Why Many Repetitive Stress Claims are Denied

Naturally, there are a number of reasons why workers’ compensation claims may be denied. However, our Tuscaloosa workers’ compensation lawyers are often called on to assist claimants with repetitive stress claims simply because these injuries are not caused by on-the-job accidents.

Even though workers’ compensation supports claims for workplace-related conditions and illnesses, an accident does not mark the onset. Thus, the source of these conditions is not always readily-identifiable. Without a known workplace accident, employers and their insurance companies can claim that employees sustained their conditions outside of the workplace. Since an experienced attorney knows the type of evidence needed to substantiate these claims, workers should not hesitate to seek the legal support necessary to pursue the compensation they need and deserve.

Additional Resources:

NINDS Repetitive Motion Disorders Information Page, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Repetitive Motion Injuries, eMedicineHealth

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