Warning Sign "Danger - Lifting & Back Belts"When people think of work-related injuries, they often imagine catastrophic events such as crushing accidents, burns and broken bones. Damage suffered on the job can also be gradual and insidious. According to the Department of Labor, more than 60,000 workers in Illinois were disabled to some extent by repetitive injuries during 2013. Repetitive stress can cause a range of symptoms affecting the ability to work, from severe pain and fatigue to complete loss of function. Workers should be aware of the risks surrounding repetitive trauma and the steps they can take to protect themselves.

Risk factors for repetitive injury

 Many common jobs are closely linked to repetitive stress injuries. Some of the most hazardous activities include the following:

  • Squeezing or gripping
  • Typing, transcribing or data entry
  • Using vibrating machinery such as train switches or power tools
  • Repetitive work on an assembly line
  • Lifting or moving heavy objects

Whether an employee is sitting at a desk all day or engaged in heavy physical labor, there is a high risk  of repetitive injury when the body is constantly under stress. Typing injuries can be just as disabling as injuries incurred in the railroad yard.

Know the symptoms and seek compensation immediately

Because these injuries occur gradually, many workers are unaware of the symptoms and only seek help when their condition becomes intolerable. It is important to know the signs of repetitive injury, which may include tingling, numbness, lack of coordination, decreased range of motion, loss of strength, fatigue, redness or swelling. Any of these symptoms should be a red flag to employees. To avoid permanent damage to nerves, tendons, soft tissue and muscles, they should seek medical assistance at once and apply for workers’ compensation.

Rights and responsibilities of workers with repetitive trauma

Illinois law guarantees the right to compensation for workers who suffer repetitive injuries on the job. The injured employee must document all activities carefully and demonstrate that the injury interferes with the ability to work. It is also important to distinguish job-related trauma from the normal effects of aging or the results of recreational activities such as sports. Employees must be careful not to damage their workers’ compensation case by unwise use of social media and other resources. They should always consult with a legal professional before speaking about their case, even to friends or family.

 

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