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Tillman & Associates, Attorneys at Law

Billion dollar issues: Micro-tasks and repetitive motion injuries

Repetitive motion injuries involving micro tasks are classified as a type of cumulative trauma disorder—it's an umbrella term that could be applied to a variety of conditions from thoracic outlet syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome to tennis elbow and trigger finger.

They're especially common in manufacturing jobs, where workers are often performing the exact same movements over and over again, throughout their shifts, day in and day out. The motions themselves aren't individually difficult, but the wear-and-tear of the constant repetition can lead to a chronic, painful condition that can actually be quite limiting.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, repetitive motion injuries involving micro tasks are only ninth on the list of the most common workplace injuries in the country, but they still cost insurers $1.84 billion in compensation to victims.

With the right sort of precautions, insurers can save a lot of money and victims can be saved a lot of pain.

What sort of things should be happening in your workplace in order to prevent injuries associated with micro tasks? There are a variety of possibilities:

-- Employees can be rotated around jobs, so that no employee is on the same job too many days in a row.

-- Making sure that employees are properly trained on how to do their job with the minimal amount of effort and maximum amount of safety, with a walk-through every time a job rotates.

-- An ergonomic professional or health care provider can be called to identify problem areas and to assess which employees are most at-risk for injuries.

-- Employees should be encouraged to take micro-breaks, stretch and discouraged from overtime.

Inflammation, fatigue and tiredness are the body's way of telling you that you need to change your pattern of working. If you begin to develop problems, make sure that you let your supervisor know and see a doctor as soon as possible about any chronic problems.

If your condition progresses, it may be necessary to file for workers' compensation for the injury. You may need time off to heal, surgery or even retraining so that you can do a different type of work. If you're having difficulty filing a successful claim, consider contacting an attorney for advice.

Source: Safety News, "Repetitive Motion Injuries in the Manufacturing Industry," accessed Feb. 06, 2017

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