Can Workers' Compensation Cover Repetitive Strain Issues?
November 15, 2012 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Repetitive strain injuries can be debilitating for employees, causing them to miss work and perhaps change their fundamental job duties. Fortunately, it is possible for workers to claim Pennsylvania workers' compensation benefits for repetitive strain injuries directly linked to work duties.
What Is a Repetitive Strain Injury?
A repetitive strain injury, also known as a repetitive stress injury or RSI, is an injury that causes pain in the muscles, tendons or nerves of a joint or other area of the body. RSIs are usually attributed to the performance of repetitive tasks.
Repetitive strain injuries usually occur in the hand, wrist, elbow or muscles of the forearm. While RSIs are typically the result of repetitive tasks, they can also be caused by consistent exposure to vibrations, sustained awkward body positions, forceful exertions or mechanical compression, which occurs when a body part is pressed against a hard surface for a prolonged period of time.
In the workplace, these causes could manifest as any repeated mechanical action, repeated actions in a cold workplace, poorly designed workstations or equipment, awkward work postures, vibrating work equipment, too many forceful movements and inadequate rest breaks. Workers on the factory floor to the cubicle likely are able to identify one or more of these causes in their daily job duties.
What Are Some Examples of Common Repetitive Strain Injuries?
There are several common types of RSI that plague the nation's workers.
- Trigger finger: Job duties that require repetitive fingers motion can cause trigger finger, in which a finger is "caught" in a bent position that looks like the finger is pulling a trigger. Inflamed tendons cause the condition.
- Ganglion: Workers may experience ganglion if their joints are exposed to prolonged mechanical compression. Ganglion causes swollen areas that are filled with fluid to appear on top of joints or tendons in the feet, hands or wrists.
- Carpal tunnel syndrome: Workers whose job duties require repetitive movements in their wrists, such as typing or moving a mouse may develop carpal tunnel syndrome, which may cause pain and numbness in the wrist and hand. Carpal tunnel syndrome constricts blood flow through the wrist joint to the hand and fingers.
- Rotator cuff syndrome: When a job requires repeated lifting motions shoulder joints may experience rotator cuff syndrome. This condition causes the tendons and muscles in the shoulder joint to swell, limiting range of motion and causing pain.
Can Injured Workers Receive Workers' Compensation Benefits?
It is possible for workers who have sustained RSIs as a result of work duties to file for workers' compensation benefits. However, it can be tricky to prove an RSI is directly linked to the workplace since the injuries take time to develop and are chronic conditions, unlike other workplace conditions that are one-time, serious injuries.
However, with proper medical evidence that the cause of the injury was job duties and the help of an experienced Pennsylvania workers' compensation attorney, it is possible for those with work-related RSIs to receive workers' compensation benefits to cover medical costs and possibly lost wages. To get help filing your claim, contact an experienced workers' compensation lawyer.