Certain jobs have more obvious, immediate risks for physical injury than others. A construction worker could fall from scaffolding, or an industrial employee could get their arm caught in a machine press. People who work in fields with strong associations with traumatic injuries often receive better pay than people in less risky positions.
However, the truth is that every job comes with risks. An office worker could suffer an electrical shock while using a fax machine with a wiring issue. A fast-food worker could face an act of violence from someone trying to rob the restaurant where they work. People in seemingly safe jobs are still at risk for career-altering injuries because of their job responsibilities.
The human body is not a machine
Employers often treat their workers like interchangeable cogs in a complex system. You have to fulfill your task throughout your shift so that three other people can also do theirs. Just because you work in an office and not on a manufacturing line does not mean that you don’t face constant pressure on the job and certain physical demands.
Holding the phone and typing, for example, puts strain on your hands, wrists and forearms. If you do these activities frequently enough for a long enough period of time, you will develop a repetitive stress injury. Repetitive stress injuries slowly accumulate due to using a body part for the same thing over and over again.
Damage to the back or shoulders of those lifting and turning items on a production line is one example of a repetitive stress injury. Carpal tunnel syndrome is another. In fact, office workers may require extensive leaves of absence and even surgery to address the repetitive stress injuries that come from working at a computer all day. These injuries not only cause pain but also impact someone’s ability to focus and do their job well. They will continue to worsen over time without proper care.
Repetitive stress injuries may change how you do your job
If typing all day causes carpal tunnel syndrome, the doctor overseeing your care may recommend frequent breaks or the diversification of your duties. You may also need surgery or physical therapy to recover.
Workers with repetitive stress injuries can count on workers’ compensation to pay for their necessary medical care and to provide short-term disability benefits if they need time off for their bodies to heal. Workers who cannot continue doing the same kind of job because of a repetitive stress injury may be able to receive permanent partial disability benefits that help compensate them for the loss in their earning potential.
Understanding what workers’ compensation covers can help you know when you deserve and qualify for benefits.