The definition of “work-related injuries” is a little vague. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), injuries and illnesses are work-related if an event in the workplace causes them.
The ambiguity confuses employees and can hinder them from coming forward when they experience health hazards. But the rule of thumb is to take the safer course of action and consider an incident work-related than sweep it under the rug.
To help employees and employers navigate the grey area, here’s a compilation of the most common work-related injuries and illnesses. We also cover the “work environment” concept and how it can help clarify things.
What Is the Work Environment?
According to OSHA, the work environment goes beyond the establishments where employees work. The work environment refers to places, equipment, and materials employees use while fulfilling work-related duties. It can include company vehicles and machinery and locations for work events and business parties.
For example, a company Christmas party at a bar is a work environment because it’s a work-related event. Any illness or injury an employee suffers during the party gives them the right to workers’ compensation. However, it’s no longer a work environment when a group of co-workers decides to go out for drinks after work to destress. It’s not an official company event, so the employer isn’t responsible for mishaps.
Physical Injuries While Working
Physical injuries are the most common form of work-related injuries. They can stem from an employee’s actions, such as climbing a ladder or lifting something heavy. But they can also be other people’s doing, such as getting hit by machinery at a construction site. General injuries can also happen in the workplace, such as tripping over something and spraining your ankle.
Usual work-related physical injuries include damage to the muscles and tendons in the feet, ankles, hands, wrists, shoulders, and back.
Repetitive Stress Injury While Working
Repetitive stress injuries (RSI) are another type of work-related injury that can entitle employees to workers’ compensation. RSIs happen when you perform the same tasks daily for an extended period, causing strain on your body.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is the most common form of RSI, with repeated wrist and hand movements irritating the tendons in the area. Cervical spondylosis is another example, usually affecting those who have to bend over and crane their necks for work. RSIs happen across various industries.
Aside from physical injuries, employees can also acquire illnesses, diseases, and disorders while on the job. Occupational illnesses can happen suddenly or develop over an extended period of exposure. For example, those who work in hospitals can be exposed to contagious diseases and get sick.
People who work in factories can develop respiratory conditions like asthma, asbestosis, or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Workers with constant contact with the sun, chemicals, or allergens can get eczema, contact dermatitis, or even skin cancer.
Can a Non-work-related Incident Happen at Work?
Incidents that happen at work aren’t always work-related injuries or illnesses. Here are some examples of situations where employers don’t need to provide workers’ compensation:
● The injured employee was present in the work environment as a member of the public and not as an employee.
● The injured employee volunteered to participate in a wellness, fitness, or medical program, such as a flu shot, blood donation, or exercise class.
● The injured employee was in the work environment doing personal tasks beyond their working hours.
The Bottom Line
It’s crucial to exercise your rights and get proper compensation for your work-related injuries and illnesses. If you suspect you have a work related injury, it’s best to consult with a workers’ compensation attorney who can help you claim the money you deserve. For more information, contact Friedman Law Offices at +1 800-876-1093.