How To Prevent Repetitive Strain Injury in the Office

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What Is a Repetitive Strain Injury?

repetitive strain injury in the office Repetitive strain injuries (RSIs) result from damaged muscles, nerves and tendons. Sometimes called repetitive motion injuries, repetitive stress injuries or repetitive motion disorders, these repetitive movements at work can lead to injuries. They can be some of the most expensive and debilitating work related injuries and range from temporary or permanent, depending on their severity.
 
Repetitive strain injuries in the office can be caused by a variety of conditions, like poor posture at work. For example, carpal tunnel syndrome is caused from repetitive motions in the wrists from typing.
 
To help protect your employees, you’ll need repetitive stress injury workers’ compensation insurance. You’ll also want to make sure your employees have proper ergonomics in their working environment.
 

Common Examples of Repetitive Motion Injuries in the Workplace

Some common tendon, nerve and muscular conditions that result from repetitive strain include:
 
  • Carpal tunnel: Your employees type all day. Repetitive tasks can cause personal injury and eventually carpal tunnel syndrome. Your workers’ compensation coverage can help pay for the medical treatment your workers need for recovery.
  • Tendinitis: At your manufacturing company, one of your most seasoned employees starts complaining of pain around their elbow. It turns out that years of working on the assembly line has caused them to develop tendinitis, often called tennis elbow. Workers’ compensation benefits can help pay for the medical expenses needed to treat these repetitive motion injuries.
  • Bursitis: One of your law firm 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 to treat these repetitive strains.
  • Rotator cuff injuries: The furniture store you own offers delivery service. When one of your employees hurts their shoulder, they’re diagnosed with a rotator cuff injury from lifting heavy furniture. Your workers’ compensation insurance can help cover the medical costs associated with this personal injury. Workers’ compensation benefits can also help cover physical therapy they may need.

Causes of RSIs

When the muscles, nerves and tendons of the upper body are overused, the risk of RSI increases. Some of the known repetitive movements that can cause RSI include:
 
  • Stressing the same muscles through repetitive motions
  • Maintaining the same posture for long periods of time
  •  Maintaining an abnormal posture for an extended period of time, such as holding your arms over your head
  • Lifting heavy objects
  • Being in poor physical condition or not exercising enough

Symptoms of RSIs

Some symptoms of a repetitive strain injury include:
 
  • Pain
  • Aching
  • Stiffness
  • Throbbing
  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Cramps
  • Numbness

How Can Repetitive Strain Injury Be Prevented in an Office?

repetitive stress injury workers compensation One of the best ways to prevent a repetitive strain injury in the office is through ergonomics. 
 
Employers can take specific actions to promote ergonomics and help prevent RSI in their work environment, such as:
 
  • Provide training on how to avoid personal injury. You’ll want to emphasize that poor posture and positioning during the day can cause inflammation in the body. This means that ergonomics may actually have anti-inflammatory effects and can help your employees avoid anti-inflammatory drugs for any affected areas that are sore. This is especially true for employees who have been doing repetitive tasks for a long time. 
  • Provide employees with the right ergonomic tools, such as: 
    • Chairs that support their back to avoid poor posture
    • Headsets so they don’t have to hold the phone for long calls
    • Footrests if a chair is too tall for them
    • Adjustable desks that fit them correctly
    • Computer monitors they can adjust to their eye level
  • Explain the importance of ergonomic changes to your employees. As you incorporate ergonomics into your work environment, 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. Or maybe you have an employee who does not want to use a headset. Remind employees that the more comfortable they are, the more productive they’ll be. 
  • Get your management team on board. The ultimate goal should be to establish a culture of healthy work habits throughout your team. Your managers are company leaders who will serve as pioneers in your workplace for ergonomic changes. 
  • Remember ergonomics can help prevent workers’ compensation claims. This can keep your overall cost of insurance down as an employer. The more personal injury claims you file, the higher your premium will likely be, so it’s essential to make ergonomic changes that can help prevent repetitive strain injuries in the office.

Industries Most at Risk for RSI

repetitive work injury A repetitive work injury can happen as part of a job duty or during leisure activities. In fact, almost every activity we do that involves repetitive motions can put us at risk for a repetitive strain. That said, some working environments have more risk of personal injury than others. Industries and jobs that have higher risk through repetitive tasks include:1
 
  • Manufacturing positions, including packaging and assembly workers
  • Sewing positions, including seamstresses and tailors
  • Retail positions, including cashiers and shelf stockers
  • Health service workers, including lab workers and nurses
  • Entertainment workers, including dancers and musicians
  • Office workers, including those who type, file or use a computer regularly
  • Construction workers, including those who sand, lay bricks or are on computers frequently
  • Food preparation workers, including meat cutters or cake decorators
  • Transportation related jobs, including bus drivers or taxi drivers
The procedure to file a workers’ compensation claim for a repetitive strain is the same as any other injury. As soon as your employee notices pain, they should report it to you and their doctor. From there, you should file a claim with your insurance provider.
 
Keep in mind that as the employer, you do have the right to contest a repetitive work injury claim, just like any other claim that arises for your business. Also, keep in mind that most repetitive strain 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 those injuries. Having to pay out-of-pocket for a worker’s strain injury or the cost of a workers’ compensation attorney, can be devastating for businesses – especially small businesses. 
 
To avoid a situation like this and ensure your employees are able to receive workers compensation benefits, consider a workers’ compensation policy from us. Get a quote today.
 
 
Last Updated: June 13, 2022
 
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1 CDC.gov, “Worker Health by Industry and Occupation.”
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