Although working in an office setting might put you in a slower-paced workplace than some other occupations – like construction work, retail jobs, food service, etc. – there is certainly no way to guarantee that work-related injuries won’t happen. In fact, white collar workers are often more susceptible to a certain type of workplace injury called a “repetitive stress injury,” which occurs when completing the same action again and again. Repetitive stress injuries tend to involve small actions, too, like dexterous manipulations.
While a repetitive stress injury – or RSI – might not be as immediately intense as more severe workplace accidents, they can still be severe enough to debilitate a worker for as long as they are untreated. To help treat RSIs and pay for those treatments, a white collar worker can actually file for workers’ compensation if the injury is indeed caused by their occupation.
Let’s look at a few of the most common white collar repetitive stress injuries:
- Wrist pain from typing: Experiencing some sort of wrist pain from typing for 8 hours a day is common among office and computer workers. Carpal tunnel and arthritis may develop in some of the worst cases, which could also call for an extension of workers’ compensation benefits or even disability pay. To help alleviate wrist pain, consider using a wrist rest for your keyboard or place a heated pad on your wrists when on break. You can also ask your employer to purchase an ergonomic keyboard for your workstation. Ergonomic keyboards might look and feel a little unusual at first, but they can greatly improve typing comfort once you get used to their specialty designs.
- Finger pain from texting: There are plenty of office jobs that require text communication on smartphones and tablets more than emails and correspondences through a computer or laptop. For example, social media managers may spend hours each day running through social media apps of all sorts, adding new posts, responding to comments, and so forth. What might surprise you is how texting frequently might lead to finger soreness, not wrist soreness. Finger strain is not a joke, either. One condition is called stenosing tenosynovitis or trigger finger, and it can cause debilitating pain whenever the finger is moved. To minimize the chances of serious finger strain, consider how you can use social media apps in your job through a traditional computer or laptop with an ergonomic setup. Some people also prefer using compression gloves, which aid in arthritis of the fingers.
- Back injury from bad chairs: There are few things worse for your back than a cheap office chair with a nonergonomic design. Being seated in a bad chair for hours and hours each day can eventually cause serious back soreness. When you do things around the house later, you could exacerbate that soreness to the point of a full-blown back injury. Give yourself at least five minutes on your feet each hour you are at work to let your back flex, move, and relax. You should also ask your employer for an ergonomic chair, which should improve your comfort and, in turn, improve your productivity. What is good for the worker is good for the employer, after all.
- Eye strain from staring at monitors: Have you ever looked at computer monitors for too long or under the wrong lighting and then a strange pain in your eyes? You were not imagining it. Instead, you were likely experiencing eye strain. In most cases, eye strain will clear up after resting your eyes for 10 to 15 minutes, preferably in a dark space. However, eye strain can be severe enough to cause lasting vision issues. Eye problems caused by computer monitor overuse has been a known problem in offices around the world for years, which is why you can find specialty glasses and monitors to help reduce eye strain during long workdays. You can also adjust the monitor settings for your work setup to change the contrast, brightness, color balance, and more. Talk to an IT associate at your office if you aren’t sure how to change these settings.
- Ear injury from constant headset use: Office workers who use headsets throughout each day can actually start to injure their eardrums to the point that hearing issues develop. Tinnitus is a constant or intermittent ringing in the ears, and it may be caused by ear soreness from continual headset use. You might also become hard of hearing in general if you have to use a headset for 8+ hours a day at work. If you have noticed that your hearing is getting worse ever since you started working in an office and wearing a headset, then you should see if you can get a different type of headset. Over-the-ear headphones tend to be gentler on the ears than earbuds.
Wondering if you can file for workers’ compensation after a repetitive stress injury has gotten to the point that you can’t work comfortably in the office anymore? Call (312) 487-2513 and connect with Leonard Law Group in Chicago. As a law firm that conducts most of our work in an office setting ourselves, we are always proud to hear from other office workers and seeing if we can help them with a workers’ comp claim.