Some jobs may be more physically demanding than others, but every job puts some degree of strain on a worker’s body. For example, office workers often develop repetitive stress injuries or cumulative trauma. Workers who spend all day holding a phone or typing at a computer could develop carpal tunnel syndrome, for example.
Repetitive job tasks are common in almost every profession, as employers expect most workers to do the same basic responsibilities for 40 hours a week or even more. Truck drivers have to grip a steering wheel all day, while roofers have to hold tools. Those in manufacturing facilities may lift, twist and bend.
The actions someone takes at work, even if they aren’t particularly demanding, can cause damage to the body if done often enough. Eventually, those tiny amounts of damage from years of performing the same functions will add up to noticeable symptoms. Workers in most professions will have to monitor themselves and potentially ask for workers’ compensation benefits if they develop a repetitive stress injury.
How workers’ compensation helps
Employees can typically secure benefits for any medical condition that directly relates to their employment. Claims are often very straightforward if there is an obvious precipitating incident, like a machinery malfunction, that leads to someone’s injury. However, workers can get benefits for cumulative trauma provided that there is a clear relationship between their injury and the functions they perform at work.
Workers’ compensation will pay the full treatment costs associated with someone’s repetitive stress injury, at least until they achieve maximum medical improvement. If the condition is serious enough to force a leave of absence, workers’ compensation will also portion of a worker’s lost wages.
Additionally, those trying to remain on the job may have an easier time getting employer accommodations when they have a claim for workers’ compensation benefits and medical documentation affirming their need for support.
Workers may need to change jobs
Repetitive stress injuries or cumulative trauma will often continue to worsen if someone does the same job after their diagnosis. Therefore, people may need to move to different job responsibilities to avoid exacerbating their injuries.
Often, such changes in position result in a reduction in take-home compensation. Workers who lose earning potential because of the last thing limitations caused by a repetitive stress injury may qualify for long-term disability benefits to cover some of their lost wages.
Those who believe that their recent medical diagnosis directly relates to their job may need to consider filing a benefits claim. Learning more about cumulative trauma and workers’ compensation can help those who have performed the same job diligently and are now incurring physical consequences.