Quite a few people mistakenly think that workers’ compensation benefits only apply to those who have suffered a traumatic injury in the workplace due to a catastrophic accident. While those hurt due to employee mistakes or machinery failures should obviously receive workers’ compensation benefits, so too should workers who develop injuries over a protracted period of time.
Small over-extensions and minor injuries can add up over time, as can the muscular and skeletal strain of repeating the same tasks for hours every day. Workers who have been in the same position for many years may one day discover that doing their standard tasks is now painful. These individuals may have cumulative trauma, also commonly known as repetitive motion injuries.
The body isn’t meant to do tasks like a machine
The introduction of assembly-line work was revolutionary in the early 20th century. Since then, almost every industry and work environment, from offices to restaurants, has implemented some degree of assembly-line philosophy to the workplace. It is common for employers to create very specific tasks that one or more employees perform.
If your job involves doing the same thing over and over, whether you answer the phone and type messages or lift components onto a table, you could easily injure yourself from doing those jobs over and over. Much like the gears and other moving parts of a machine require repair or replacement, so too can the joints, bones and connective tissues of your body wind up over-exerted and injured.
Different jobs will leave people with injuries in different parts of their bodies. Whether you grip things with your hands and develop pain in your forearms and fingers or lift and twist, which leads to pain in your lower back, you need to alert your employer of your injuries and take steps to protect yourself.
Recovery usually requires both rest and medical care
Full recovery from a repetitive motion injury requires medical care and giving your body a chance to heal. Depending on the severity and location of your injury, medical professionals can recommend a break from work or even ways to modify tasks to reduce the strain put on different parts of your body.
Informing your employer of the injury means that you can file a workers’ compensation claim that will cover the medical costs associated with your rehabilitation. Those same benefits will cover a portion of your lost wages if you can’t return to work immediately.
In the event that the injury is so severe that you will not be able to continue performing the same kind of work you used to, workers’ compensation can also help you retrain for a position that better suits your current physical state.