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Repetitive Movements Are a Common Cause of Workplace Injuries

By David A. Goldstein, Esq.

From clerical staff to cashiers, meatpackers to musicians, teachers to traffic officers—anyone whose job requires repeating movements over and over again is vulnerable to a repetitive stress injury (RSI).

According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), there are more than 100 different types of job-induced injuries caused by repetitive motions. And, RSIs make up the largest category of workplace injuries, even more than cuts, slips and falls and car accidents, affecting hundreds of thousands of American workers.

Avoiding workplace injuries.  Butcher at work.

RSIs are caused by repeated physical movement that damages the tendons, nerves, muscles and other soft body tissues. These movements aren’t necessarily difficult or physically challenging, but when done repeatedly can cause damage, usually to the hands, wrists, back, shoulders or neck. Common symptoms include the following:

  • Pain
  • Tightness
  • Dull ache
  • Throbbing
  • Numbness
  • Tingling

These symptoms usually develop over time. At first, they are apparent while you’re performing the task, but as the condition worsens, they may be present constantly and increase in severity while doing the repetitive task.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is a commonly occurring RSI that we see in a lot of our clients, many of whom perform widely varying jobs.

At the recent UTLA (United Teachers Los Angeles) Conference, many of the teachers who visited our booth complained of these injuries resulting from the use of such things as whiteboards in the classroom. The repetitive nature of writing on and erasing the boards can wreak havoc. But, we also discovered a new cause of such injuries—MiSiS (My Integrated Student Information System), a software system that provides teachers, counselors and administrators with access to student information all in one place—the computer. It sounds great—and efficient—but it also causes RSIs due to the mouse work required when using the technology.

Cumulative trauma injuries—those that occur over time—such as RSIs caused by such divergent workplace duties as cutting meat, directing traffic, working the checkout stand at a supermarket, using a mouse and keyboard….are compensable industrial injuries under California’s Workers’ Compensation system. If you would like to speak with an experienced Workers’ Compensation attorney about an RSI or any other work-related injury, please call 213-739-7000 or click here.

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