Nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses required employees to miss 1,157,410 days from work in 2014.
The median number of days taken off from work to recuperate — a key measure of severity — was nine days, one day more than the previous year. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSD) are a real pain, both in the amount of discomfort they cause people and the amount of money they cost the U.S. workforce. MSDs are the single largest category of workplace injuries, responsible for around 30 percent, with direct costs of $15,000 and indirect costs up to five times as much. MSDs are injuries that affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system and may be referred to by other names such as “repetitive motion injury,” “repetitive stress injury,” or “overuse injury.”
Repetitive motion is one of the many reasons for knee and shoulder injuries on the job.
One of the largest and most complex joints in the body, the shoulder moves every time the arm moves. It doesn’t hold weight in the same way as a knee does, but it is undeniably important when you consider its proximity to the neck and head. The joint is of the ball and socket variety, formed where the upper arm bone (humerus) fits into the shoulder blade (scapula). The fit is a fairly loose one, allowing for the greatest range of motion of any joint in the body. That range is also supported by a set of muscles and tendons called the rotator cuff, which itself is protected by a sac of fluid (bursa). Despite all these safeguards, the substantial freedom of movement means that this part of the body is particularly vulnerable to injury.
Common Shoulder Injuries at Work
Shoulder injuries are often caused by repetitive movements. Excessive, recurring motion greatly elevates the risk of sprains, strains, and rotator cuff injuries. A worker who spends lots of time performing repetitive activities such as typing on a keyboard, painting, repairing vehicles on lifts, stocking shelves, filing, or lifting objects (e.g., food trays, construction materials, grocery bags, patients) is at an increased risk for shoulder injury. Jobs that require the majority of the work to be done with the arms out in front of the body or with frequent overhead motion often lead to rotator cuff tears, tendinitis, or bursitis.
Shoulder fatigue and injury to the rotator cuff can be avoided. To that end, employers should:
- encourage susceptible employees to participate in a pre-shift stretching program
- offer ergonomic workstations
- educate workers regarding proper lifting techniques
- make sure the right tool is available for the job.
As the largest joint in the body, and one that has to carry a lot of weight, the knee is a complex structure made up of four basic parts: bone, cartilage, ligaments, and tendons. Essentially, every part of your leg comes together at this central location that has to absorb impact and keep you upright every time you take a step. The thigh bone (femur), shin bone (tibia), and kneecap (patella) come together to form the joint. These three bones need something fairly viscous to allow smooth movement when you need to bend or straighten your leg, which is why a slippery substance called articular cartilage covers the ends of the femur and tibia, as well as the back of the patella.
The meniscus is a pair of tough, rubbery, wedge-shaped pieces of cartilage between the femur and tibia that act as a cushion and a stabilizer. This is the cartilage most often referred to when someone has “torn cartilage in the knee.” The bones also need to stay in place. That’s where the ligaments come in, connecting bones to other bones. One set in the knee acts as a brace against unusual movement and controls sideways motion. A second set controls the back and forth motion. The fourth part of the knee are the tendons, which connect the bones to the muscles.
Far too many injuries are caused by the failure of an employer to implement and maintain basic safety measures. Depending on the circumstances of your knee or shoulder injury, you may have a legal cause of action. If you received a debilitating shoulder or knee injury at work, it is important to contact a GA jobsite joint injury lawyer. The worker injury attorneys at the Mann Law Firm can help by reviewing the circumstances, outlining all available options, and guiding you through the legal system. Call us at (478) 742-3381 or fill out our online form. In addition to cases handled in Macon, we are prepared to handle claims on behalf of clients in Dublin, Warner Robins, Milledgeville and other Georgia communities. We would like to meet with you to discuss your case, and we are proud to offer free initial consultations.
Common Knee Injuries at Work
Knee injuries can be debilitating and have long recovery periods. Sudden, severe injuries to the knee are often due to falling, abnormal bending, unnatural turning, and improper twisting. It’s just as likely that a worker will receive a direct hit injury as it is that he or she will develop a repetitive motion injury. You can also break your kneecap, tear your meniscus, or get movement-interfering debris from a fracture or dislocation stuck in the joint. That is something that can cause problems long after you think an injury has completely healed. Knee damage can also make it hard to stand for long periods of time or to operate foot controls in heavy machinery, and can affect the steadiness of someone who does a lot of lifting.
Examples of employees who have a high risk for knee injuries are truck drivers (frequently stepping in and out of a large vehicle), nurses and wait staff (constantly on their feet), construction workers (on their feet, handling heavy equipment, in and out of vehicles), and manufacturing workers (dealing with large pieces of equipment).
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