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Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Workplace

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Close-up of person with injured hand or wrist at doctors office
In Missouri, employers must carry workers’ compensation insurance or apply to self-insure after meeting the requirements established under Mo. Code Regs. tit. 8 § 50-3.010. Most employers opt to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This means that if an employee is injured at work, they can file a workers’ compensation claim for benefits to cover their medical expenses and a portion of their wages while they are unable to return to work. Some of the most common types of injuries suffered by employees are repetitive stress injuries, which are caused by repetitive movements and overuse of certain muscles. Scroll down to learn more about repetitive stress injuries in the workplace.

What Are Repetitive Stress Injuries in the Workplace?

Repetitive stress injuries in the workplace are injuries that develop over time due to performing certain movements and actions repetitively, overusing the muscles and tendons. These injuries can cause damage to the nerves, tendons, and muscles of the affected limb and might require surgery, physical therapy, and long periods of recovery. When people suffer repetitive stress injuries in the workplace because of their work conditions or job requirements, they can file workers’ compensation claims to recover benefits.

Repetitive stress injuries are common and often affect the following body parts:

  • Wrists
  • Fingers
  • Thumbs
  • Knees
  • Shoulders
  • Elbows
  • Arms

Common Types of Work-Related Repetitive Stress Injuries

The following types of repetitive stress injuries are fairly common in workplaces:

  • Secretaries and office workers suffering carpal tunnel syndrome caused by repetitive typing or lack of ergonomic work devices
  • Construction workers suffering injuries to their arms caused by the repeated use of and vibrations from drilling tools
  • Industrial workers suffering trigger fingers or thumbs caused by repetitive forceful gripping of objects
  • Warehouse workers suffering back strains and sprains caused by repetitive lifting of heavy objects
  • Landscaping workers suffering tendinitis caused by repeated movements while gardening, including shoveling and planting
  • Manufacturing workers who suffer hearing loss because of constant exposure to loud noises in the workplace

Depending on their severity, repetitive stress injuries might have relatively short periods of recovery, require long recovery periods, or result in permanent disabilities that prevent people from returning to their jobs.

Special Issues Related to Repetitive Stress Injuries and Workers’ Compensation Claims

Since repetitive stress injuries develop over time and don’t involve a specific accident on a certain date, proving that an injury was caused by workplace conditions can be difficult. Employers and insurance companies might dispute claims for workers’ compensation insurance and argue that the injuries were caused by the employee’s activities outside of work. For this reason, injured workers who learn that their injuries were likely caused by their jobs should notify their employer as soon as they discover their injury is work-related and file workers’ compensation claims. The employer might require the employee to submit to a medical examination by a doctor chosen by the employer to confirm that the injury was caused by the employee’s job duties.

Certain types of repetitive stress injuries, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, are widely recognized as being related to the conditions of employment for office workers who spend hours per day on computers. For these types of injuries, the employer and the insurance company might be more willing to approve a claim. However, injuries that are not as commonly recognized as work-related injuries might be aggressively disputed by the employer and insurance company. For example, a worker who suffers hearing loss after working for years in a noisy environment might have their claim for benefits denied. The insurance company might argue that the employee’s hearing loss was a natural age-related condition instead of a workplace injury.

Get Help from an Experienced Workers’ Compensation Attorney

If you have developed a repetitive stress injury because of your job, reach out to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney at the Law Offices of Bryan Musgrave as soon as possible. We can review your case and help you gather evidence to support your claim. Call us for a free case review at 417-322-2222 or contact us online.