Law Office of Leslie S. Shaw, A.P.C. - Workers' Compensation

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What is an ergonomic workplace injury?

Administrative workers in San Diego will likely agree that uncomfortable work environments can adversely affect productivity and also increase the probability of musculoskeletal injuries and eyestrain. For this reason, the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health provides guidelines for employers to assist with establishing ergonomically safe workstations to prevent workplace injury. Ergonomics involve adapting workstations and tasks to fit the worker to cause less physical stress that could cause debilitating musculoskeletal disorders.

The standards outlined by safety authorities cover the improvement of accessibility and visibility. An ergonomically safe desk will be set up to suit the worker’s height. If it is too high, the worker must maintain elevated forearms, wrists and hands for hours on end, causing shoulder and neck muscles to spasm from fatigue. A desk that is too low requires the worker’s trunk to flex, and this leads to the hyperextension of the neck. When setting up the monitor, the ideal height to allow the spine to remain in a natural position is in line with or slightly lower than eye level.

Office chairs are available in various designs to provide maximum postural support and flexibility. Employees whose workstations are not ergonomically designed to suit them can suffer long-term health damage. Working in an uncomfortable position for extended periods will cause fatigue in the supporting and stabilizing muscles of the shoulders and spine. Another hazard to avoid is psychological stress that often triggers uncontrolled physical reactions such as elevating the shoulders and exacerbating the fatigue already present in the neck, shoulder and back muscles.

Office workers in San Diego might find comfort in knowing that ergonomic injuries and musculoskeletal disorders are covered by the California workers’ compensation insurance program. However, proving it to be a workplace injury could be challenging. This is where the skills of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney come in. A lawyer can assist with the claims process, or handle the appeal for a claim that has been initially denied.

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