Repetitive Strain Injury in the Workplace

Can you receive workers’ compensation benefits for RSIs in the workplace? Our Colorado attorneys have answers.

Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) are injuries caused by repetitive motion, and this category of injury is growing quickly. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as much as 33 percent of all sick days are due to musculoskeletal injuries like an RSI. If your job requires you to stand or sit in the same position for long periods or perform repetitive manual tasks, you may be at risk for an RSI.

RSIs develop over time, so many people don’t seek out medical treatment until the injury is extremely painful. If an RSI goes untreated, it can become debilitating and hamper your ability to do your job or perform daily tasks such as brushing your teeth.

Common types of RSIs

Over 100 varieties of RSIs exist. Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the most common and well-known types of repetitive stress injuries. Other common RSIs a worker may develop include:

  • Ganglion cysts
  • Epicondylitis (aka tennis elbow)
  • Knee injuries that affect the ACL or MCL
  • De Quervain's syndrome (aka BlackBerry thumb)
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Tendinitis
  • Bursitis
  • Thoracic outlet syndrome
  • Tenosynovitis
  • Ulnar tunnel syndrome
  • Impingement syndrome
  • Radial tunnel syndrome
  • Nerve entrapment disorders
  • Dystonia (aka writer’s cramp)
  • Trigger finger
  • Raynaud’s disease

RSI causes and contributing factors

Many factors contribute to a repetitive stress injury. When you perform tasks that are ill-suited to your physical abilities, it may result in excess wear and tear on the muscles and tendons in the affected area. For instance, if you work on an assembly line and must stretch across the conveyor belt, over time you may strain the muscles in your arms, back and neck.

Other potential causes of an RSE include:

  • Heavy lifting or lifting items that have a disproportionate weight distribution
  • Failing to take adequate breaks to let your muscles rest
  • Working in an environment that’s not ergonomically sound
  • Using poorly designed equipment
  • Completing awkward and repetitive tasks
  • Performing forceful movements
  • Keeping a static posture for long periods of time

Work environments that place a high priority on employee performance and increasing the speed of production often yield a greater number of RSIs. Your job may be repetitive and limited. To maintain production speeds, managers and supervisors may conduct electronic surveillance on employees to ensure compliance and limit bathroom breaks. Pushing for faster and faster production without adequate break times puts workers at a greater risk of suffering an RSI.

What should you do if you think you have an RSI?

If you have concerns that you may have an RSI, and the condition has impeded your ability to perform tasks at work or home, take action quickly. Delaying treatment may make the condition worse and cause irreparable damage.

The first action you should take is to inform your employer of your injury. Not only will this increase the likelihood of obtaining benefits, but regulations require your employer to identify and fix workplace hazards. Your employer needs to know about such conditions in order to fix the problem. Communicate your concerns to your HR manager or supervisor.

If your RSI is work-related, you may be entitled to compensation through Colorado’s workers’ compensation system. However, you have a responsibility to inform your employer in a timely manner. The process of informing your employer will include filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Seek professional legal representation to secure your rights

If you’ve suffered an RSI or another workplace injury due to your job, you may be owed benefits through the workers’ compensation system. Navigating workers’ compensation system isn’t always an easy process.

We strongly encourage you to hire an experienced attorney to assist with your workers’ compensation claim and quickly address any obstacles that may impede the process, such as challenges to whether the injury is work-related or was a pre-existing injury. Our attorneys will help you gather the evidence necessary to protect your rights and secure compensation for you and your family.

Contact the Babcock Law Firm today for your free consultation.

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