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What are repetitive stress injuries?

On Behalf of | May 6, 2024 | Workplace Accidents |

Not all workplace injuries are the result of sudden events, like a fall or a piece of equipment that malfunctions in your hand. Many are caused by small, frequent movements or pressure on a body part where the trauma is cumulative. 

These are called repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) and they affect thousands of workers every year. These injuries develop over time due to repetitive motions, forceful exertions, vibrations or sustained awkward positions. Common types of RSIs include carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, bursitis, housekeeper knee and tennis elbow, among others. 

How do RSIs occur in the workplace?

RSIs generally happen in predictable fashions, usually through:

  1. Prolonged and repetitive movements: Jobs that require workers to make the same motions repeatedly, such as assembly line factory work or typing at a keyboard, can strain specific muscles and tendons in the wrists or hands over time.
  2. Poor ergonomics: Incorrect posture, improper workstation setup and non-ergonomic equipment contribute significantly to the development of RSIs. For instance, using an improperly adjusted chair or working at a desk with the wrong height can lead to back and shoulder problems.
  3. Forceful exertions: Tasks that require excessive force or awkward positions can increase the risk of RSIs. This is common in industries like construction, where workers may need to lift heavy objects or perform repetitive tasks in uncomfortable positions.
  4. Vibration: Workers using vibrating tools or machinery are susceptible to RSIs. The constant vibration can damage nerves in their hands, arms and shoulders, leading to conditions like hand-arm vibration syndrome and permanent weakness.
  5. Lack of Rest and Recovery: Continuous exertion without sufficient recovery time doesn’t give the body a chance to repair and can lead to overuse injuries.

If you develop an RSI due to your work activity, you are just as entitled to workers’ compensation as someone who has been injured in a sudden accident. If you’re having trouble getting your workers’ comp approved for an RSI, it may be time to explore your legal options.