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Work comp benefits for repetitive motion injuries: what you need to know

Work comp benefits could be available for on-the-job injuries or illnesses caused by repetitive motions.

In some workplaces, there is little to no repetition. Things are always changing, and workers might never do the same exact task or motion twice in a row. In other workplaces, however, the same or similar motions and duties are performed over and over. A worker in a commercial food preparation facility, for example - like New Jersey's own Bosco and Hillside Candy - may reach up to the production line, grasp packaged products, and transfer them into packing boxes hundreds or even thousands of times during a typical workweek.

While the individual motions themselves are not harmful to the body, performing them in over and over, in quick succession, without adequate time for engaged muscles to rest, can be very detrimental to the body. These sorts of repeated actions can lead to repetitive motion injuries (also known as "repetitive motion trauma," "repetitive stress injuries" or "repetitive strain injuries").

Some people don't realize that, similar to one-time injuries and other occupational diseases that happen in the workplace or because of job activities, repetitive motion injuries are usually eligible for workers' compensation benefits. Collecting the work comp benefits due you for one of these painful and debilitating injuries will give you the time you need to recover and seek required medical treatment.

Reasons for repetitive motion injuries

There are almost as many types of repetitive motion injuries as there are jobs that can cause them. Essentially, any part of the body could be impacted by repeated motions or awkward posturing, both of which can, without adequate rest breaks and adjustments, cause harm to the body.

In years past, repetitive stress injuries were mainly seen in assembly line and manufacturing laborers, but there has been a surge in this type of injuries among white-collar workers as well. This isn't because white-collar jobs have suddenly become more physically demanding, but because the constant computer and telephone duties ubiquitous in the modern office can easily result in strain on the shoulders, neck, back and wrists.

Of course, manufacturing jobs can still lead to repetitive motion trauma unless frequent breaks are taken or different muscle groups are used periodically. These types of injuries are also commonly seen in:

  • Delivery or package routing jobs amongst workers who lift and sort boxes/parcels all day, leading to strain on the muscles and joints of the arms, legs, back and shoulders
  • Tradesmen and women who work with power tools, since the vibrations from tools and other heavy equipment can increase the chances of repetitive motion injuries
  • Janitorial/housekeeping positions, particularly those where the same cleaning actions are repeated on a large scale, like in office buildings and hotels.

Types of common injuries

There are seemingly infinite different types of repetitive motion injuries possible, and they can impact any area of the body suffering from overuse; listing them all would be impossible in a single article. That being said, there are some types of injuries that are commonly seen. These include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome (affecting the nerves running through the wrist; this can result in chronic pain, numbness and a loss of function in the fingers without proper treatment)
  • Tendinitis
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic neck, shoulder or back pain
  • Rotator cuff injuries
  • Reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSDS)
  • Hearing loss (caused by repeated exposure to loud noises on the job)

If you are suffering the effects of a work-related repetitive motion injury, you may be eligible for workers' compensation benefits. The process of securing those benefits can be complicated, though, particularly if your employer denies that your injuries are because of your job. You don't have to go it alone, though. Contact the Paterson, New Jersey, law offices of Kaplan & Kaplan, Counsellors at Law today by calling 800-724-5346 or 973-988-1101, or by sending an email.