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You can claim workers' comp for repetitive strain injuries

Authorities often express their concerns about employers who prioritize profits over employee safety. Business owners sometimes resist spending money to address safety hazards because compliance with some regulations may require high initial expenses. Unfortunately, this is a misperception. Safe workplace environments in which there are limited chances of injuries can avoid the costs of lost hours and workers' compensation claims that will lead to increased insurance premiums.

Are you working in a manufacturing plant in which some workers carry out repetitive motions for hours on end? Are others doing their tasks in confined spaces, requiring them to work in awkward positions? Then you and your colleagues may be developing musculoskeletal or soft tissues injuries that are preventable -- slowly and steadily.

How can repetitive motion injuries be prevented?

Employers can have a professional ergonomics assessment done to study the efficiency of you and your co-workers in your work environment. Business owners have recognized the value of proper ergonomics for more than 40 years because implementing it in an industrial facility can increase productivity and lessen workplace injuries. Common repetitive injuries can include systemic diseases such as gout and rheumatoid arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, cubital tunnel syndrome, bursitis, tendinitis, and tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis.

If your employer brings in a person to assess the ergonomics of your workplace, these are some of the areas on which that person might focus:

  • Type of activities -- All employees must be able to effectively perform their duties while maintaining healthy, safe and comfortable postures.
  • Muscular force -- Any jobs must allow you and you colleagues to perform them by using major muscle groups rather than exerting excessive force on smaller muscle groups. That can cause needless wear and tear on the employee's joints that can lead to sprains and strains.
  • The range of movements -- The range of movements and the intervals of repetitions play an important part in this assessment. Certain body parts, such as the head, upper limbs, hands and trunk are especially susceptible to damage during non-varied groups of movement.

After the completion of the assessment, the ergonomics advisor, business owner and employees together must study the danger areas and suggest changes to prevent injuries.

Based on the review, the following modifications may form part of the new ergonomic work environment that will prevent you and your co-workers from suffering debilitating injuries:

  • Workers will be able to take breaks regularly without disrupting the performance of a production line.
  • You will be able to vary your position between sitting and standing -- to avoid the need to remain in one position throughout a work shift.
  • No awkward body position will be required for you to do your job. Adjustments will allow normal body positions.
  • The position of your workstation will fit your height to prevent you having to look up or down all day, or stretch or bend repetitively during your day.

Many advantages to working for a company that prioritizes workplace safety exist. Sadly, some New Jersey workers remain exposed to ergonomic hazards. Chronic pain and long-term medical problems are often the results. Although you can seek compensation for medical expenses and lost income through the state's workers' compensation insurance program, proving the condition is work-related can be close to impossible. However, help is available through the services of an experienced workers' comp attorney who can navigate such a claim on your behalf and work to get the maximum compensation that might even cover future losses.

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