Archive for December, 2019

Can safety technology reduce repetitive strain injuries?

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

Workers in manufacturing often need to perform repetitive tasks. While many tasks in manufacturing might not seem strenuous on the surface, they can have a harmful impact if performed over and over again.

Repetitive stress injuries, in fact, are among the most common workplace health-related issues, according to an article in EHS Today that outlines how manufacturers can reduce these injuries. An injury from repetitive strain can cause damage to soft tissue and tendons and may sideline a worker for weeks, months or even permanently.

How safety technology can help

According to OSHA, it costs U.S. employers about $1 billion a week in direct costs linked to injuries. Companies dealing with repetitive stress injuries have to make compensation payments, cover medical expenses and legal services, and absorb the cost of lost revenue due to a reduction in productivity.

Manufacturers certainly don’t want to bear the burden of these costs. It’s in their best interests to keep workers safe. That’s why it’s critically important for them to pay proper attention to ergonomics. A hand drill, for example, might not cause an injury if used by a worker only once a day. Many manufacturers need workers to use the tool throughout the day. A single worker might tighten thousands of fasteners in one workday, which over time can result in a number of problems:

  • Fatigue
  • Hand and arm stress
  • Injury

Repetitive stress injuries can be reduced if employers bring new technology into the workplace. EHS Today describes how manufacturers today can equip their shops with ergonomically designed tools that reduce the stress on the operator. Recent innovations have made it possible for workers to use fastening tools that deliver short pulses of energy into a fastener during tightening. This allows the worker to perform repetitive tasks with a smaller risk of injury than if performed on tools not equipped with the technology.

EHS Today writes about tools that reduce torque reaction in the fastening process. These tools, including power drills, can be set to one of three modes:

  • Ergonomic mode, which is ideal for hard joints or when arm, wrist or tool angles are difficult
  • Performance mode, which is the best all-purpose mode
  • Productivity mode, which is the fast mode and is ideal when high production rates are required

A responsibility to keep workers safe

Manufacturers today can choose from a wide variety of technologies that reduces the amount of force transferred from the tool to the worker using it. Manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure a safe work environment, which is why it’s critical for them to consider upgrading to new ergonomic tools.

EHS Today reports that workers who use reduced reaction technology work faster and are more comfortable. The technology reduces the number of repetitive stress injuries from the aggressive impact of using a tool several times throughout the day. Assembly workers should talk to their supervisors to find out if they are using ergonomic tools.

If you or a loved one sustained a repetitive stress injury, contact an experienced work injury attorney as soon as possible. Your employer or the insurance company may downplay the injury. You may be told to return to work before you’re fully recovered.

You don’t have to deal with your employer and the insurance company on your own. Contact the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl. Trust us to handle your claim while you focus on your recovery.

Retail, warehouse injuries likely to increase this holiday season

Massachusetts workers' compensation attorney

Those who work in retail and warehouse distribution should be prepared for a faster-paced work environment this holiday season. More demand from shoppers means commercial goods to be made, distributed, stocked on shelves, and sold to the public.

Here are the injury statistics for the retail and warehouse sectors.

Retail injuries on the rise

All private industry sectors saw a dip in total recordable workplace injury cases in 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Retail was the only private sector that saw an increase in recordable cases — from 3.3 cases per 100 workers in 2017 to 3.5 cases per 100 full-time workers in 2018.

The most common retail injuries in 2018, according to the BLS, included:

  • Sprains, strains, and tears
  • Pain and soreness
  • Bruises and contusions
  • Cuts, lacerations, and punctures
  • Fractures

Most retail injuries were caused by:

  • Overexertion
  • Contact with objects and equipment
  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Accidents involving transportation
  • Violence, and/or injuries by people or animals

Warehouse injuries also common during the holidays

The rate of total recordable workplace injury cases in the warehouse sector, according to the BLS, was 5.1 per 100 full-time workers in 2018.

Warehouse accidents can be more devastating than retail injuries, especially when heavy machinery is involved. For example, forklift accidents are a leading cause of serious injuries and deaths in warehouses.

Other common causes of warehouse injuries include:

  • Slips, trips, and falls
  • Contact with objects or equipment
  • Being struck by falling inventory

How workplace fatigue plays a role

The holiday season is not only stressful for those who spend hours shopping, traveling, and planning events, it can also be tiresome for workers. Those who work in retail and warehousing will likely be required to work overtime this holiday season.

Sleep deprivation, long work hours, and workplace stress can all result in:

  • Loss of memory
  • Depression
  • Impaired hand-eye coordination
  • General fatigue that is worse than being impaired by alcohol

Those who work the night shifts are the most accident-prone. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2012 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says that nearly 70 percent of warehouse and transportation employees who work the night shift are fatigued.

Know your legal rights if you’re injured on the job this holiday season

Whether your job entails cashing out customers, stocking shelves, operating a forklift, or delivering goods, you may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits if you sustain an injury on the job.

If you’ve never filed a claim before, the process can seem complex and overwhelming. Any errors made on your paperwork can cause your benefits to be delayed or denied. Let an experienced Massachusetts workers’ compensation attorney at the Law Offices of Deborah G. Kohl do the work for you.

For nearly four decades, our legal team has successfully advocated for injured workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. To get started on your claim, contact us online and set up your free case evaluation with one of our attorneys.