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Danger in the Cubicle: Repetitive Strain Injuries at Work

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Friday, August 3, 2012

Danger in the Cubicle: Repetitive Strain Injuries at Work

Repetitive strain injuries often occur in an office environment, causing pain that contradicts the perception that cubicles are safe, mundane places to work. The fact is that a dependency upon technology, specifically personal computers, has led many workers to suffer from chronic neck and back pain.

According to Clay Scott of the University of Michigan, “…repetitive strain injuries (RSI) are defined as a cumulative trauma disorder (CTD) stemming from prolonged repetitive, forceful, or awkward hand movements. The result is damage to muscles, tendons, and nerves of the neck, shoulder, forearm, and hand, which can cause pain, weakness, numbness, or impairment of motor control.”

Injuries at work are especially frustrating because they inhibit your ability to earn a living. Knowing the symptoms of these injuries is the first step of prevention. The following are some of the symptoms that you may experience from repetitive strain injuries at work:

  • Chronically cold hands
  • Clumsiness: You find yourself dropping things?
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent self-massage (subconsciously)
  • Heaviness: Hands feel like dead weight
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Lack of coordination
  • Lack of endurance
  • Lack of strength in your hands
  • Tingling, numbness, or loss of sensation
  • Weakness in the hands or forearms

Fortunately, there are a number of ways that you can combat repetitive strain injuries while in the workplace. The following “best practices” may help avoid work injuries, especially for administrative and computer workers:

  • Correct computer monitor placement: This is especially critical for laptops users. People who often work via laptop tend to have poor posture, which can lead to injuries at work, because they have to lean forward and over to utilize a laptop that is sitting on a desk. Computer platforms that bring your laptop screen to the correct height should be utilized.
  • Chair adjustment: If you have an adjustable office chair, pay attention to the seat back and armrests – not just the height of the chair. A level that allows you to comfortably view your computer screen is critical.
  • Exercise: Strengthening your muscles can reduce pain, discomfort and work injuries. It appears that exercise is one of the ways to accomplish that goal. Surprisingly, the benefits of exercising can be experienced by doing as little as two minutes per day. In fact, there seems to be no significant difference in the decrease of pain between workers in the study who exercise for two minutes and those who exercise for twelve minutes. This is encouraging news for those who are daunted by the concept of introducing long periods of exercise into their daily routines.
  • Frequent breaks: To avoid repetitive trauma and other work injuries, you should get out of your chair and move around at least once per hour. You can use this time to take a water break, use the restroom, or speak with a coworker directly rather than calling or emailing. Anything that allows you to get out of your chair and stretch your muscles can prevent injuries.

Repetitive strain injuries at work plague so many in the U.S. workforce due to the heightened prevalence of computer use in today’s office environment. If you have been injured at work, you may be eligible to receive compensation (and worker’s compensation) for your pain, suffering and medical bills. At the Malman Law we believe that everyone is entitled to solid legal representation. We have the staff, experience, and resources to properly represent you, and we guarantee that your experience with us will be a satisfying and pleasant one. Request a Free Case Evaluation Today or Call 1-888-625-6265.

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