When you think of on-the-job injuries, you may think of the catastrophic injuries suffered by a construction worker who falls from scaffolding or the logger who mishandles a saw. Your aches and pains may not seem so severe compared to those. While it may be true that you are less likely to suffer a potentially fatal injury in your line of work, that doesn’t mean your injury is not painful or that your suffering is any less important.
If you wake up in the morning with back pain, sore shoulders or aching hands, you may find it difficult to complete the normal routine to get ready for your workday. Of course, once you are on the job, that pain is likely to get worse, especially if your job is causing the pain in the first place. Without proper care and medical attention, you may eventually be unable to work at all.
Make it easy on yourself
If your job involves any kind of repetitive physical activity, you may be at risk for injury. Filling orders in a distribution center, working on an assembly line or sitting at a computer are just a few examples of jobs that may require you to move in ways that are not natural for your body. Research into safe and effective methods of performing tasks, ergonomics, continues to find new and simple ways to relieve stress on your body by simplifying the movements you perform on the job, for example:
- Moving objects closer together to eliminate the need to carry them longer distances
- Adjusting chairs, computer monitors and keyboards so your head, neck and hands are in more natural positions
- Decreasing the distance you have to reach for assembly line parts to reduce shoulder strain
You may become aware of other changes you can make to eliminate strain or improve the ergonomics in your workplace. Addressing these with your supervisor may be a cost-effective way to reduce injuries on the job since about 30 percent of workplace injuries involve preventable musculoskeletal disorders.
Getting well so you can return to work
Recovering from an ergonomic injury often takes time, rest and physical therapy. However, the workers’ compensation insurance company may disagree about how much time you need to fully recover. This may be only one area in which you may have to struggle to obtain the benefits you need, provided the insurance company approves your claim in the first place.
Repetitive strain and similar injuries are notoriously difficult to prove to insurance companies. This is why many Illinois workers find it helpful to enlist the assistance of a legal advocate from the earliest moment following their injuries so they can focus on getting well and getting back to work.