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The Risk of Repetitive Motion in the Workplace

In the United States, repetitive motion injuries are one of the leading injuries named in workers’ compensation claims.

There is a myth that to receive workers’ compensation benefits, the cause of your injury must result from a single event. For example, a cable installer falling off a ladder or a waiter slipping on an ice cube. Many workplace injuries result from prolonged exposure, either to a dangerous substance or chemical or repeating the same motion throughout your workday.

missouri worker using a keyboard and mouse

There does not have to be fault in a workers’ compensation case, just proof that the injury directly results from your job. If you are being treated for a disease or condition that may have been caused by a regular part of your work duties, an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can help you determine whether or not you qualify for benefits.

Repetitive Motion Injuries

In the United States, repetitive motion injuries are among the leading injuries in workers’ compensation claims. Most are often associated with carpal tunnel syndrome. However, repetitive motion injuries can also include bursitis and tendinitis. Bursitis is inflammation of the cushions protecting your joints. It develops over time, usually by placing direct pressure on the affected joint for long periods. Workers such as gardeners who spend a lot of time on their knees are susceptible to developing bursitis in the knee joint. Tendinitis is an inflammation of the tendons that connect the muscle to bone. Since tendons are responsible for pulling the muscle that controls the bone, injury to them is most often caused by repeating the same action repeatedly. Office workers who spend long periods typing on a keyboard are susceptible to developing tendinitis in their wrists. In fact, for every 100,000 full-time workers, 1.1 will develop tendinitis.

Tendinitis of the elbow is known as epicondylitis or, more commonly, tennis elbow, as it is seen primarily in tennis players. For example, imagine a Missouri bus driver goes to their physician complaining of elbow pain and is initially diagnosed with epicondylitis. The development of bone spurs worsens the joint’s condition, which requires surgery to remove. Bone spurs occur in about 20% of tendinitis cases. The employer’s insurance denies the claim. At this point, a Missouri workers’ compensation attorney could bring in experts to show how using the stick shift caused the condition.

4 Ways Employers Can Help Prevent Repetitive Strain Injuries

Encourage Employees to Take Breaks and Move Around

This cannot be emphasized enough. When performing the same task repeatedly, employees need to take breaks around every 20 minutes. This will allow them to stretch their muscles.

At the same time, employers should encourage employees to move around and be active outside work. They may do this by providing them gym memberships or organizing workplace sports teams.

Make Sure Employees Have the Right Equipment

One of the most critical ways employers can help prevent repetitive stress injuries is to ensure that employees have the right equipment for the job. This includes ergonomic furniture such as chairs, desks, keyboards, proper tools, and safety gear.

Employers should also train employees on how to use this equipment properly. For example, workers who use a computer all day should know how to set up their workstations ergonomically and take breaks to avoid eye strain.

Change the Workplace Layout

The layout of the workplace can also have an impact on the risk of repetitive stress injuries. For example, if workers constantly reach for something, moving it closer to them may be helpful. Alternatively, if a task requires employees to stand for long periods, employers could provide them with a stool or raise the height of the work surface.

Educate Employees About Repetitive Stress Injuries

One of the best ways to prevent repetitive stress injuries is to educate employees about the risks and how to avoid them. Employers should provide information on the symptoms of repetitive stress injuries, how to prevent them, and what to do if they occur. This information can be disseminated through posters, handouts, or online resources.

Additionally, employers should hold regular safety meetings to ensure that employees are up-to-date on the latest information on repetitive stress injuries and other workplace safety issues.

If an action related to your job is suspected to be the cause of your disease or condition, contact a Missouri workers’ compensation lawyer right away. Remember, you typically have 30 days after the initial diagnosis to report it to your employer. Failing to do so may put receiving workers’ compensation benefits at risk. Your attorney can help you draw up the written notice, including your name and address, the date of diagnosis, and the nature of your injury, particularly how it relates to your work.

Workers’ compensation benefits are available to anyone who requires medical care due to their employment, not just those who have an accident on the job. There is no need to prove negligence.

If you have recently been diagnosed with a disease or condition commonly found to be work-related, speak to the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at The Law Office of James M. Hoffmann. We’ve been helping injured workers in Missouri for over 30 years and can help you navigate the claims process and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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Updated: January 22, 2024