Working in an office may seem like a safe job description because of the indoor, climate-controlled environment, but office workers face several hazards that can cause serious injury. Spending time indoors, working on a computer or phone, can lead to back, neck, hand, or wrist pain that is seemingly minor, but may develop into a debilitating condition. Computer screens, poor lighting, and air quality, and obstacles in pathways are other causes of injury to office workers.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), slip and falls are the most common work accidents in offices and cause the most disabling injuries. Office workers have more than double the risk than non-office workers of suffering a disabling injury in a fall. Injuries from slip and falls can include:
Falls can result from tripping on electrical cords, loose carpeting, open drawers or files, or objects left in hallways. Office workers can also fall when they use a chair instead of a ladder, bend to reach something from a seated position in an unstable chair, or slip on a wet floor.
Ergonomics refers to workplace design related to efficiency and prevention of injury. Ergonomic injuries may stem from poor posture, lack of ergonomically correct equipment, and repetitive motion. These injuries include eye strain, musculoskeletal disorders of the neck, shoulders, and back, and repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and bursitis.
A lack of adjustable equipment, such as a desk, chair, keyboard, or mouse, can force an employee to adopt an unnatural and uncomfortable posture that puts unnecessary strain on the muscles being used. Over time, the repetition of the same task causes injuries to those muscles. Repetitive stress injuries can start off as pain, fatigue, or muscle weakness. If left untreated, severe cases can leave a worker unable to accomplish daily tasks such as writing or typing.
Using a computer all day can cause eye strain, but the problem can be exacerbated by both inadequate or excessive lighting conditions. Atmospheric conditions like air quality can also contribute to eye strain if the air is excessively dry or polluted with dust or pollen.
Many multistoried office spaces rely on heating and cooling systems to ventilate the workspace. The quality of the indoor air can vary widely and induce allergies, asthma, chemical sensitivity, and other respiratory ailments. Air quality greatly depends on regular maintenance of the heating and air-conditioning systems, including the cleaning and filtration of ducts and vents. Airborne infections and illnesses can thrive in closed office ventilation systems that are not properly maintained.
Both moving and stationary objects can injure office workers. Employees struck by objects falling from overhead shelving or cabinets can suffer head injuries. Doors, drawers, windows, file cabinets, and paper cutters can catch fingers causing cuts or bruising. Any moving machinery poses a risk of injury to office workers with long hair or dangling jewelry.
Office workers who suffer a work-related injury can file for Workers’ Compensation benefits that may include the following:
If you have a work-related repetitive stress injury, such as carpal tunnel syndrome, it is important to notify your employer as soon as you receive a diagnosis as the time frame for filing a Workers’ Compensation claim is limited. Working with an experienced Workers’ Compensation lawyer who understands the complexities of such a claim can ensure that you do not miss any deadlines and forfeit your right to benefits.
If you have experienced a work accident and are seeking compensation, entrust your case to the skilled Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation lawyers of Gross & Kenny, LLP. Our knowledge and experience have helped countless injured workers. Call us at 267-589-0090 today or contact us online to schedule a free consultation in our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania office. We serve injured workers throughout the state.