What are repetitive stress injuries and are they compensable?

Workers' compensation is often associated with major workplace accidents, injuries or illnesses. Something not often spoken of are repetitive stress injuries. These can seem minor at first, but over time, the effects can be debilitating. Employees in Massachusetts may have a number of questions regarding repetitive stress injuries, including what causes them and are they eligible for workers' compensation.

A repetitive stress injury (RSI) is considered an overuse injury that can happen to any part of the body subjected to repetitive movements day-after-day. These can be experienced in just about any field of work. For those who work in an office setting, one of the most common causes of RSI is excessive computer use. Ergonomics can play a big part in the cause or prevention of these injuries. For those constantly typing, wrist position, keyboard height and a number of other factors that may seem small or insignificant can actually lead to serious injury.

There are a few things a person can do to help avoid these types of injuries, including maintaining good posture, stretching, taking breaks and varying tasks to cut down on repetitive movements. When symptoms of an RSI are first noted, it would be advisable to speak to your employer and seek medical attention. Symptoms of RSI include:

  • Shooting pain
  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Regular pain in a specific part of the body

Repetitive stress injuries are actually considered a serious occupational health hazard. Injuries left untreated in the early stages can lead to the need for extensive medical treatments, time off work for recovery and, in some cases, even permanent disability. Massachusetts employees who suffer from an RSI may qualify for workers' compensation benefits. Help in pursuing fair and full compensation is available.

Source: healthday.com, "Repetitive Stress Injury (RSI)", Paige Bierma, Nov. 12, 2014

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