What Happens If You Get A Repetitive Strain Injury At Work
When most people think of workplace injuries, they think of something big, such as being cut by a saw or having heavy items or materials fall off shelves onto a person. While these injuries certainly occur, it is actually less dramatic injuries that happen more frequently and greatly impact people’s lives. Repetitive strain injuries, known as RSI, happen to people in various occupations. Whether it is a construction worker spending their day holding a hammer while they pound nail after nail, an office worker typing for hours on a keyboard, or a cashier scanning item after item, RSI can result in numerous health problems and long stretches of being unable to work. If you have sustained a repetitive strain injury at work, here is information as to what may happen next.
Types of RSI and Symptoms
Since RSI can involve many different occupations, there are many types of RSI. Common examples include carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, tendinitis, lower back strain, and many more. As for symptoms, these can range from various types of pain including dull aches or throbbing pains, tingling and numbness, loss of strength or coordination, and reduced range of motion or limited flexibility.
Seek Medical Treatment
As soon as you begin to notice symptoms of RSI, seek medical treatment so your injuries can be documented as having occurred due to your job. Since you will be filing a workers’ compensation claim for your injuries, it will be crucial to have your injuries verified as quickly as possible. If you don’t, you may be unable to file a claim, or have your employer’s insurance company claim your injuries were not the result of your job.
Occupations at Risk of RSI
Since RSI can happen to many different types of workers, certain occupations are at higher risk of RSI than others. These include janitorial and housekeeping personnel, retail clerks, delivery workers, manufacturing workers, building trades personnel, and musicians. In fact, any occupation that requires frequent lifting, awkward postures, carrying items, using equipment that vibrates, or typing at a keyboard can lead to RSI.
Once an RSI is Diagnosed
After you have seen a doctor and been diagnosed with RSI, you may be under a variety of restrictions. For example, depending on the severity of the RSI, your doctor may prescribe you work shorter hours for a specific period of time, have time limits on performing certain tasks, prohibit you from performing certain tasks, or require your employer to give you frequent breaks during your workday. In more severe cases, the doctor may state you need to be off from work for a period of time to allow your injuries to heal. Whatever the case may be, never try to “tough it out” when suffering from RSI, since this will only make the injuries worse.
Filing Your Workers’ Comp Claim
Since proving RSI must adhere to higher standards than many other injuries, it will be vital you have extensive medical documentation when filing your workers’ comp claim. Due to variations within state laws, always work with your company’s Human Resources director to ensure you follow all necessary rules and meet all filing deadlines.
Hire an Attorney
Unfortunately, many employers become very difficult to work with once you file your workers’ comp claim, and may in fact try to intimidate you into dropping your claim. To do so, an employer may reduce your hours, demote you to a lesser-paying job, or threaten to fire you if you follow through on your claim. Since all of these acts are illegal under U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity laws, it is best if you hire an attorney to represent you from the very beginning. By doing so, you will not only receive expert legal advice from an attorney specializing in this area of law, but also put your employer on notice that your legal rights will be protected each step of the way.