Office work is commonly considered to be safer than many other jobs. On a certain level, this is true. It doesn’t bear as much continual risk as construction or healthcare work. However, office work is by no means completely safe and without risk. There are many ways in which an office worker can be injured, even by activities that seem harmless. In this article, we will examine some of the more common ways office workers are injured on the job.
Injury by Falling
The most common way to be injured in an office is by falling. Some office workers stay in their station most of the day, but others are constantly on their feet, attending meetings and delivering messages. Office workers who often move around are usually in a hurry, making sure their deadlines are met. It’s easy to slip or trip if walkways are cluttered, poorly lit, or slippery.
Office workers are sometimes required to move items around. Even small items can cause injury if lifted improperly. Suffering this kind of injury does not mean an office worker is weak or frail. They may simply be inexperienced and/or untrained when compared to a warehouse worker, whose job requires constant lifting.
Incorrectly lifting or moving objects can put strain on the body. This form of injury often presents itself in the back, neck, or shoulders. Lifting can also result in a hernia. Abdominal muscles are fickle, and even public speakers can rip them when they don’t employ proper breathing techniques.
Construction and warehouse workers are trained to be on constant alert for other people and objects. Office workers are trusted to navigate their space without incident, but they could benefit from similar training. With workers bustling around, contact injuries happen frequently. Perhaps one person opens a file cabinet just as another is speed walking down the walkway. Sometimes workers slide their chairs back without looking, bumping into someone else. One person turns the corner into the breakroom too quickly, just as another person exits, holding hot coffee. There are a number of ways a worker can be hurt by making fast, hard contact with people and things, especially if not properly trained by their employer.
Repetitive Movement Injuries
Any occupation that requires frequent, similar movements can wear down the body, causing repetitive stress injuries. These are often called MSDs, or musculoskeletal disorders. One of the most well-known examples is carpal tunnel syndrome. People who spend most of their day typing or using a mouse can eventually compress nerves in their hands, leading to tingling, numbness, weakness, or aching.
Lack of movement can be equally hazardous to the body. People who are often in sedentary positions can also develop MSDs. They can develop back problems, including herniated discs. Other joints in the hips or shoulders can be affected. Ergonomic furniture is ostensibly designed to combat these problems. Furniture without this design can contribute to MSDs. Even the best ergonomic furniture cannot completely eliminate these problems. People also sit in ways that aren’t healthy, often crossing their legs or slumping their shoulders. Long stretches of sedentary positions take a toll on the body, and they should be categorized as office injuries.
People take their jobs seriously, and they are often protective of their positions and duties. When many personality types interact with one another, disagreements are bound to happen. Most large, well-organized businesses have an HR department that can help mediate between workplace disputes. Small businesses, however, do not often have such departments, and workers must handle disagreements on their own.
When arguments get heated, they can erupt in violence. According to OSHA, there were 458 workplace homicides in 2017. Not everyone is lucky enough to work in a friendly, supportive environment. Sometimes workplace environments are deadly.
Office Workers’ Compensation
Initial workers’ comp applications are often denied. Insurance companies can claim that the injuries are not serious enough to warrant benefits. Sometimes they will use small technical errors to deny a claim. They may argue that the injury was the worker’s fault, or that it did not take place during work hours.
When a worker has been denied, they can appeal the decision in a workers’ compensation hearing. Much like a courtroom, there will be lawyers representing both sides. They will argue before a judge, and they may present witnesses and evidence. There is no jury, and the hearing does not take place in a courtroom. The judge will, however, make a final decision as in a courtroom trial.
When you plan to request workers’ compensation benefits, you should talk to an attorney first. Even in the initial application process, a lawyer can look over your paperwork and possibly see errors or missing information. This saves you the trouble of needing a hearing later. They can even assist with the language, helping you phrase your application in a way that makes it more likely to be approved.
If you’re suffering from office work injuries, call us today at (714) 500-8661, or contact us online. Worker rights is our main area of focus, and we may be able to help you seek the benefits you deserve.