What Is a Repetitive Stress Injury?
Not all work-related injuries result from a single traumatic event. Some of the most expensive and debilitating injuries result from repetitive movements. These injuries often damage soft tissues like muscles and tendons. Injuries resulting from repetitive motions are called repetitive stress injuries (RSI) or repetitive motion injuries. In some cases, an injury resulting from repetitive movements may be referenced as a repetitive strain injury (RSI). To help protect your employees from injuries like these, you’ll need workers’ compensation insurance. You’ll also want to administer proper ergonomics at the workplace.
Some common injuries that result from repetitive stress include:
- Carpal tunnel. For example, say your employees are typing all day. This repetitive motion can cause injury and eventually carpal tunnel syndrome. Your workers’ compensation coverage can help cover medical treatment they need for recovery.
- Tendinitis. For example, say you own a manufacturing company. One of your most seasoned employees comes to you complaining of pain around their elbow. It turns out that years of working on the assembly line has caused them to develop tendinitis. Your workers’ compensation coverage can help cover the medical expenses needed for their recovery.
- Bursitis. For example, say you own a law firm and one of your employees develops bursitis from poor posture at their desk. As a result, they need medical attention. Your workers’ compensation insurance can help cover the costs associated.
- Rotator cuff injuries. For example, say you own a furniture store and one of your employees reports a rotator cuff injury. After seeing a doctor, it’s determined that they have rotator cuff syndrome from lifting heavy furniture. Your workers’ compensation insurance can help cover the medical costs associated. Workers’ comp can also help cover physical therapy they may need.
How to Prevent RSI
One of the best ways to prevent repetitive strain injuries at your workplace is through ergonomics. To get your employees into ergonomic positions and workplaces, you’ll want to provide training. During this training you want to emphasize that poor posture and positioning during the day can cause inflammation in their body. This means that ergonomics may actually have anti-inflammatory effects. This is can be especially true for those who have been working in strained positions for a long time.
You’ll also need to provide employees with the tools they need to work as ergonomically as possible. Some ergonomic equipment can include:
- Chairs that support your employees back
- Headsets so employees don’t have to hold the phone for long calls
- Footrests if a chair is too tall for an employee
- Adjustable desks to fit each employee correctly
- Computer monitors that can adjust to employee’s eye level
As you implement ergonomics into your office, you may encounter employees who resist change. For example, say you have an employee who’s sitting at the same desk for years and they don’t want to change it. Or maybe you have an employee who just does not want to use a headset instead of a regular phone. Regardless of what issues arise, it’s important to explain the importance of ergonomic changes to your employees. Ultimately, your goal should be to establish a culture of healthy work habits throughout your team.
To create this culture effectively, you want to get your management team on board. Your managers are company leaders who will serve as pioneers in your workplace for ergonomics changes.
As you carry out your changes, remember ergonomics can help prevent workers’ compensation claims. This can keep your overall cost of insurance down as an employer. This occurs because the more claims you file, the higher your premium will likely be. Also, the more comfortable your employees are, the more productive they’ll be.
Industries Most at Risk for RSI
Both repetitive work tasks and leisure activities can cause injury. In fact, almost every repetitive activity we do can put us at risk for a repetitive stress injury. That said, some work positions and industries have more risk than others. Some industries and jobs that pose increased risk through repetitive tasks include:1
- Manufacturing positions. This can include packaging and assembly workers. It can also include welders.
- Sewing positions. This can include seamstresses and tailors.
- Retail positions. This can include cashiers and shelf stockers.
- Health service workers. This can include lab workers and nurses.
- Entertainment workers. This can include dancers and musicians.
- Office workers. This can include any office worker who types, files or uses a computer regularly.
- Construction workers. This can include workers who sand, lay bricks or are on computers frequently.
- Food preparation workers. This can include meat cutters or cake decorators.
- Transportation related jobs. This can include bus drivers or taxi drivers.
Workers’ Compensation & RSI
Every industry poses risks for repetitive stress injuries. An ergonomic friendly workplace is one of the best strategies for preventing injury. You want to ensure your employees are as comfortable as possible in order to prevent RSI injuries. However, it’s essential to have a solid workers’ compensation policy for claims that may arise. These policies help protect your employees, your business and yourself.
The procedure for filing a workers’ comp claim is the same as any other injury. As soon as your employee notices pain, they should report it to you, as their employer, and their doctor. From there, you should file the claim with your insurance provider. Keep in mind that you, as the employer, do have the right to contest a repetitive injury claim just like any other claim that arises for your business. Also, keep in mind that most repetitive stress injuries do require time off from work to heal properly.
Learn More About Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Having a workers’ compensation policy not only protects your employees from work related injuries. It also protects your business from devastating financial costs associated with injuries. Having to pay out-of-pocket for a worker’s injury can be devastating for businesses, especially small businesses.
To avoid a situation like this, consider a workers’ compensation policy from The Hartford. Learn more. Get a quote today.
This article provides general information, and should not be construed as specific legal, HR, financial, insurance, tax or accounting advice. As with all matters of a legal or human resources nature, you should consult with your own legal counsel and human resources professionals. The Hartford shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, special, consequential, incidental, punitive or exemplary damages in connection with the use by you or anyone of the information provided herein.