Understanding Ergonomic Injuries in the Workplace

Understanding Ergonomic Injuries in the Workplace

by / Friday, 15 April 2022 / Published in Workplace Woes

Not all types of workplace injuries are caused by sudden, traumatic events like falls or being caught in a piece of powerful equipment. It’s very common for occupational injuries to gradually develop over time. Ergonomic injuries/musculoskeletal disorders are a prime example of a type of injury that can develop over time. 

A musculoskeletal disorder is a type of injury that affects muscles, ligaments, and tendons caused by things like doing repetitive tasks, lifting or moving heavy objects, and working in awkward positions. One very common example of a musculoskeletal injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Other common ergonomic injuries include tendonitis, muscle strain, and torn rotator cuff in the shoulder. 

Musculoskeletal disorders are an extremely common issue. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were 900,380 cases of work-related injuries in 2018 that required time away from work to recover. Out of those injuries, 30% of them were musculoskeletal/ergonomic injuries. They’re a type of injury that affects workers in many different types of industries. Numbers from the BLS from 2018 show that the industries with the highest rates of musculoskeletal disorders included health care and social service, retail, manufacturing, transportation/warehousing, construction, wholesale trade, financial activities, information, and agriculture and forestry. 

Even though ergonomic injuries are very common, that doesn’t necessarily mean they can’t be prevented. The sad reality is that musculoskeletal injuries can be prevented through measures like proper ergonomic support or training about how to safely move and lift items. However, they can be an overlooked safety problem. Both employers and employees often underestimate the severity of the problems poor ergonomics can cause. 

For example, ergonomic injuries are a type of injury that can occur in workplaces that are traditionally seen as being safe environments, such as offices. If a person’s desk chair or workstation doesn’t offer good ergonomic support, the worker may not feel comfortable speaking up. They might not want to seem like a bother to their boss or try to downplay their own neck or back pain as not being that bad. Or an employer might dismiss an employee’s request for something like a monitor stand that would prevent the employee from putting strain on their neck. But if those problems persist for a long amount of time, they can result in musculoskeletal injuries developing over time.

Contact a Workplace Injury Lawyer

When a work-related illness or injury takes time to develop, employers will often try to avoid responsibility. They’ll try to argue that it could have been caused by something else that happened off the clock. That’s why it’s so important to contact a workplace injury lawyer as soon as possible if you’ve been injured on the job. A lawyer will be able to help you understand your rights and make sure your claim for workers compensation benefits is handled correctly from the very beginning. 

At Goodwin & Scieszka, you’ll be able to get help from a lawyer experienced in helping people in the state of Michigan who have sustained injuries on the job. Contact us today to find out how we can help you.

Image: iStock / sturti

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