When workplaces are not ergonomically designed, employees may develop work injuries, and the most common injury is a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).
In Pennsylvania, MSDs are generally compensable under workers’ compensation. If a worker was injured due to poor or lacking workplace ergonomics, they may need a lawyer to collect the maximum amount of benefits available.
What Causes Musculoskeletal Disorders?
MSDs are soft tissue injuries that are often caused by overexertion, awkward postures, repetitive motions, and vibration. They account for approximately one-third of all occupational injuries and illnesses in the United States.
An upper extremity MSD is the most common and costs approximately $28,866 to $33,258, according to the Safety Pays Program of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Increased Opioid Abuse and Suicides
Another effect of ignoring workplace ergonomics is the increased risk of suicide or opioid overdose. Opioid abuse remains a concern when it comes to MSDs, as workers who file workers’ compensation claims are prescribed higher doses of opioids than those filing private claims in order to get them back to work sooner.
Injured workers have elevated rates of both opioid use and depression, which may lead to suicide or opioid overdose death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that there were a record number of 47,600 overdose deaths in 2017 and that suicide rates have steadily increased in the last two decades.
Are There Alternative Treatments?
According to the OSHA, opioids do nothing to treat the underlying problem; all they do is help the injured worker to feel less pain while the primary cause of pain remains. The OSHA recommends several alternative treatment solutions, including:
- Physical therapy: Treatments, like stretches, deep tissue massage, injury-specific strengthening, and hot and cold treatments, can improve patient outcomes. Physical therapy also saves up to 60 percent on medical bills and can improve chronic conditions, according to the OSHA.
- Prevention: The best solution is to try to prevent an injury from happening. Employers may implement workplace injury prevention programs as well as OSHA-approved techniques, such as hot and cold therapy, massage, application of non-rigid support, and exercise to help prevent injuries in the workplace.
- Early treatment: If an injured employee is seen within 24 to 48 hours, most musculoskeletal injuries can often be treated in just three to four visits, according to the OSHA. Employers may also encourage employees to self-identify early in order to prevent discomforts from becoming more serious injuries.
When is an Injured Worker Eligible for Compensation?
If a worker is hurt doing a work-related task, they are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. After suffering a work injury, a worker should speak to a lawyer. A lawyer will assist with a claim and ensure that the worker receives workers’ compensation benefits.
Downingtown Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC Help Workers Obtain Benefits for Work Injuries
If you are suffering from an MSD caused by insufficient or nonexistent workplace ergonomics, contact one of our Downingtown workers’ compensation lawyers at Wusinich, Sweeney & Ryan, LLC. Our experienced attorneys help clients obtain the maximum amount of benefits available. For a free consultation, complete our online form or call us at 610-594-1600. Located in Exton, Pennsylvania, we serve clients throughout Downingtown, West Chester, Exton, Coatesville, Phoenixville, Malvern, Lyndell, Wagontown, Uwchlan Township, Parkesburg, Chester Springs, Lancaster County, Reading, and Morgantown.