When people think of work injuries, many think of dramatic injuries such as a fall, but there are other types of injuries that can sneak up on a person called repetitive stress injuries (RSIs). RSIs are caused by having to do the same sort of action multiple times on a regular basis, perhaps even daily without sufficient breaks or training that would prevent such an injury. Some common RSIs include back injuries, rotator cuff injuries, carpal tunnel syndrome, bursitis, and tendonitis.
Why Do People Get Repetitive Stress Injuries?
One of the main reasons why RSIs happen is due to the desire for the workplace to be more efficient. Workers have been asked to do more work and produce higher production numbers in the same amount of time. This means moving faster and not having the breaks they require. Some have needed to be able to keep up with machines. In the case of jobs where heavy lifting is required, such as delivery driver, stockers, and caregivers of non-ambulatory adults weight limits have been risen in recent years which puts a bigger strain on the worker's back and joints.
Since more companies are coming to understand the pain behind these injuries, many employers are putting more resources toward preventing them. Many larger employers work with ergonomics experts that help to teach employees body position techniques and break strategies that will help workers identify task related injuries early and prevent many of these injures from happening.
Are You Getting An RSI?
Repetitive stress injuries can be more difficult to identify than other work injuries. For example, if you fall off a ladder while retrieving an item and break your arm you can easily attribute a specific action to your injury and use it as evidence to file a worker's compensation claim.
Since an RSI can come on little by little, and isn't always felt immediately these can be harder to identify and prove. Sometimes you might experience soreness the next day after lifting more boxes than usual, or trying to type faster during the busy season of your job. There might not be a lot of discomfort at the time of the task, but you find you can really feel it in the morning.
Don't Wait To Report An RSI
Many people are afraid of losing income, and they tolerate the pain of RSIs longer than they should. They keep quiet about the injury and try to cope by taking over the counter medications, however this is not the best strategy to have when it comes to RSIs. It is best to keep your employer informed of any discomfort you believe is caused by your job and seek medical attention for the injury as soon as possible. This gives your employer an opportunity to reduce your production quotas, schedule ergonomic consultations, or mix in other types of tasks into your job in order to lower your risk of injury.
It is also important for you to follow any directions you get from your doctor as well as recommendations from the ergonomics expert. If you do this, you will be able to say with confidence that you have done what you can to do your job and prevent injury. If your symptoms continue to worsen, it may be a good idea to talk to a lawyer as well as your employer about your injuries. Do your best to keep a log of your injuries, your doctor visits, medications taken, and other preventative measures you have tried. When RSIs are allowed to continue for too long a little pain can turn into a debilitating condition that not only affects your ability to do your current job, but many other jobs and activities as well.