At-work injuries can be the result of immediate harm, like a concussion after a fall on a slippery floor or the loss of a limb in a machine-related accident. Many employees may not realize repetitive stress injuries also affect a significant number of Raleigh workers. RSIs, musculoskeletal disorders that develop over time, are common job-related complaints.
Repetitive motion or stress injuries, called by other interesting names like “milkmaids’ arm” and “telegraphists’ cramp,” have been reported in workplaces for more than a century. The overuse injuries were prevalent among employees required to repeat the same, frequently-rapid motions again and again. RSIs, once exclusively a blue-collar worker’s complaint, are now widespread in offices where workers pound away at computer keyboards hour after hour.
Researchers learned almost 60 percent of U.S. computer operators – a staggering number of workers in today’s job market — suffer wrist pain while working. More than half complained keyboard placements were too high, but nearly the same percentage failed to take suggested breaks from computer use to alleviate the problem.
How pervasive and expensive are RSIs in the U.S.? The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reported 1.8 million employees each year suffer repetitive stress injuries. One-third of all workers’ compensation benefits are related to musculoskeletal disorders like RSI, which alone accounts for costs of $17 billion to $20 billion.
RSIs often start out as discomfort that increasingly develops into a crippling health condition. Sufferers report arm, wrist or hand tingling, heaviness and numbness and aches in necks, lower arms and shoulders. Simple tasks, like turning a key or buttoning a shirt, can become painful and, later, impossible.
These are preventable injuries, through employer efforts to invest in efficient, safe workplaces and employees’ willingness to adjust how they work. RSIs are valid injuries that should be reported to employers. An attorney can help RSI victims receive necessary medical attention and maximum workers’ compensation benefits.