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Which Occupation Has the Most Repetitive Strain Injuries?

If you’ve suffered a repetitive strain injury at work, an attorney can help

Repetitive strain injuries are a common yet often overlooked health issue that can impact workers across various industries in New York. Musculoskeletal disorders, which include repetitive strain injuries, make up about 30% of all cases requiring days away from work.

These injuries can lead to chronic pain and long-term disability if not addressed properly. Understanding which occupations are most prone to repetitive strain injuries is important for protecting your rights, especially if you work in one of these occupations.

If you sustained a repetitive strain injury while on the job in New York, it's important to know that you have legal rights. Consulting with a workers' compensation lawyer can help you navigate the claims process and ensure you receive the benefits you deserve.

What are repetitive strain injuries?

Repetitive strain injuries are a group of conditions that affect the muscles, tendons, and nerves. These injuries often occur due to repetitive motions, forceful exertions, or sustained awkward positions. They often develop gradually over time, ranging from mild discomfort to severe pain and disability.

The most common types of repetitive strain injuries include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome: This condition occurs when the median nerve is compressed as it travels through the wrist. It leads to numbness, tingling, and weakness in the hand and fingers.
  • Tendinitis: This involves inflammation of a tendon, typically caused by repetitive motion or overuse. It typically affects the shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees.
  • Bursitis: This is inflammation of the bursae, the small fluid-filled sacs that cushion bones, tendons, and muscles near joints. It often occurs in the shoulder, elbow, and hip.
  • Epicondylitis: Also known as tennis elbow or golfer's elbow, this condition involves inflammation of the tendons that attach to the elbow. It results from repetitive wrist and arm motions.
  • Rotator cuff injuries: These injuries affect the muscles and tendons that stabilize the shoulder joint, often due to repetitive overhead motions.

The most common symptoms of repetitive strain injuries include:

  • Pain and discomfort: Initial symptoms often include aching, tenderness, and mild pain during or after activity.
  • Numbness and tingling: This happens particularly in the hands and fingers and indicates nerve involvement.
  • Weakness: Affected muscles may become weak and reduce the ability to perform work tasks.
  • Chronic pain: Without intervention, these injuries can lead to persistent pain and disability, which can impact both work performance and quality of life.

What risk factors lead to repetitive strain injuries?

Most repetitive strain injuries are the result of:

  • Repetitive motions: Performing the same movement repeatedly, such as typing or lifting, can strain muscles and tendons.
  • Poor ergonomics: Workstations and tools that don’t support proper posture and body mechanics can increase the risk of repetitive strain injuries.
  • Forceful exertions: Tasks that require significant force, such as lifting heavy objects or using vibrating tools, can lead to muscle and tendon damage.
  • Prolonged activity: Long periods of activity without adequate breaks can prevent muscles and tendons from recovering.

Which profession has the highest rate of repetitive strain injury?

Repetitive strain injuries can affect workers in many industries, but certain occupations are particularly prone to these injuries due to the nature of their tasks. Here are the five most at-risk occupations for these injuries.

Office and administrative workers

Office and administrative workers often spend long hours at desks, using computers and other office equipment. This repetitive activity, combined with poor ergonomic setups, can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome, tendinitis, and other similar injuries.

The most common contributing factors include typing, mouse use, inadequate desk and chair ergonomics, and insufficient breaks. Better ergonomic workstations, proper keyboard and mouse placement, and frequent breaks can prevent these injuries.

Healthcare professionals

Healthcare workers, such as nurses, doctors, and physical therapists, frequently engage in repetitive tasks such as lifting and moving patients, administering injections, and performing repetitive diagnostic tests.

This puts them at risk of developing tendinitis, back problems, and other musculoskeletal conditions. Contributing factors often include repetitive patient handling, long hours, physical strain, and lack of ergonomic training.

The best ways to mitigate these risks for healthcare workers are to use lift-assist devices and proper techniques for moving patients. Employers can also provide ergonomically designed medical instruments and tools and offer training on body mechanics and safe patient handling practices.

Manufacturing and assembly line workers

Workers in manufacturing and assembly lines perform repetitive tasks that often require precision and speed. They may also work with vibrating machinery, which can exacerbate the risk of bursitis, epicondylitis, and other repetitive strain injuries.

The most common risk factors include repetitive hand movements, use of vibrating tools, high productivity demands, and awkward postures. This can be mitigated with task rotation, ergonomic tools and equipment, and workstation adjustments.

Construction workers

Construction workers are exposed to repetitive tasks involving heavy lifting, using power tools, and working in awkward positions. The physical demands of construction work make these workers highly susceptible to rotator cuff injuries, knee strains, and other serious injuries.

The most common contributing factors include heavy lifting, repetitive motions, the use of vibrating tools, and inadequate rest periods. Mechanical aids, vibration-reducing tools, and training in safe lifting techniques can reduce these risks.

Musicians and performers

Musicians and performers often practice and perform repetitive motions for extended periods. The high physical and mental demands of their work can lead to various tendinitis and focal dystonia, a neurological condition that causes involuntary muscle contractions in a particular body part.

Contributing factors include repetitive practice routines, prolonged performance, high physical demand, and lack of ergonomic awareness. These injuries can be prevented with better ergonomic instruments, posture and technique training, and regular breaks and stretches.

How do I file a workers’ compensation claim in New York for a repetitive strain injury?

If you’re dealing with a repetitive strain injury from your job, you should notify your employer immediately. In New York, it’s mandatory to provide written notice within 30 days of the injury.

Then, seek immediate medical attention and inform your doctor that your injury is work-related. Your doctor will need to supply a medical report to support your claim.

When it’s time to file a claim with the New York Workers' Compensation Board, you must complete Form C-3 and submit it online, by mail, or in person. This form requires information about your injury and employment and must be submitted within two years of the injury date or the date you became aware that your condition was work-related.

An experienced workers’ compensation attorney at Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP can help you through the process so you don’t make any errors that can jeopardize your claim.

You can also help your claim by collecting all medical records, doctor’s notes, and employment documentation. You’ll need to comply with the insurance company’s request for information, but be cautious about making statements without consulting a lawyer, as this can potentially hurt your claim.

Get legal help from our skilled New York workers’ comp lawyers

If you were injured at work in New York, our dedicated legal team can help you get the benefits you deserve while you recover. For over 90 years, hard-working New Yorkers have relied on us to fight for their rights, and you can too. Our knowledgeable legal team is ready to stand by your side.

Don't navigate your claim alone—contact us online for a free, no-obligation evaluation. Every discussion is personalized and confidential, ensuring that your specific situation is thoroughly understood and addressed. We have several law offices in NYC and throughout New York State.

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