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Office workers and repetitive stress: a Q & A on ergonomics and injuries

No matter what your job is, doing it day after day takes a toll on your body.

As an office worker, you don't face the more obvious injury risks that prevail in industries like construction or agriculture. But the risks of work-related injuries are there nonetheless.

In this post, we will use a Q & A format to inform you about some key things to know about on-the-job injuries to clerical workers, particularly injuries involving repetitive stress.

What exactly is "ergonomics"?

"Ergon" is the Greek word for work. The field of ergonomics - the applied science of designing workplaces to maximize efficiency while minimizing injury risks - has made many advances in recent years.

Employers are now generally much more conscious of the need to identify risk factors for injuries and consciously seek to address them.

How does ergonomics apply in an office setting?

In an office setting, ergonomics has made both employees and employers more aware of the need to design work stations in ways that are good for the people who are using them.

Doing this doesn't only promote the health and wellness of employers. It is also good for the bottom employer's bottom line because it helps to prevent injuries and keeps productive workers on the job.

For example, a proactive ergonomics initiative by an employer could include such things as offering adjustable work stations that allow for standing, rather than sitting. It could also include finding ways to cut down on repetitive strain.

How common are injuries to office workers?

Neuromuscular skeletal injuries are common among office workers who perform repetitive tasks such as typing all day long. Many of these injuries are to the upper extremities, particularly the arms, wrists and tendons.

Another term for such injuries is of course "carpal tunnel" injuries.

What kind of treatment is available for carpal tunnel injuries?

Traditionally, it has been common to use a splint to relive pressure in the affected wrist. More recently, however, there have been reports of the effective use of a form of acupuncture involving electronic stimulation.

What about getting workers' compensation benefits if an upper-extremity injury keeps you from working?

Marshaling medical evidence in your favor is especially important with injuries involving repetitive strain. Your employer or the insurance company may try to argue that your injury was caused by a pre-existing condition such as arthritis.

A knowledgeable workers' compensation attorney can guide you forward in asserting your claim effectively.

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