Construction Site Risk: Repetitive Stress Disorders

construction site injuryThe constant, repetitive movements common in the construction industry can easily cause wear and tear on the body. Completing the same action repeatedly over time can cause gradual or developed sprains, strains, and other injuries. The risk of injury is only increased when repetitive tasks are performed with the addition of heavy objects or machinery, which is often used by contractors.  

Common Repetitive Stress Injuries Suffered By Contractors

  Sprains, strains, and other injuries to the joints bones, nerves, and muscles are often suffered by workers in the construction industry. A sprain is a ligament (which attach bones) injury or tear. A strain is an overworked or stretched muscle. Sprains and strains affect the surrounding muscles, causing additional pain and agitation.   Sprains and strains most commonly affect the hand, wrist, shoulders, neck, upper back, lower back, hips, and knees in contractors. These are classified as musculoskeletal disorders and mainly caused by repeated movement and repetitive stress over time.   The following is a list of the most common diagnosed conditions suffered by construction workers caused by repetitive movements, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:   Carpal Tunnel Syndrome   Carpal Tunnel Syndrome affects the nerves in the hand and wrist. The symptoms are numbness, tingling, burning, and pain. Extreme cases may involve clumsy or shaky hands, dry palms, and the wasting of muscles of the thumb. Construction site risks include the repetition of the following actions: grasping tools tightly, bending of the wrist, pushing the wrist against a solid surface or object.   Back Injury   Serious back injuries can occur gradually over time. Symptoms are sharp pains, dull aches, and difficulty walking and standing. Common construction site risks include repetition of the following actions: lifting heavy objects, sudden and intense movements, body vibrations, lifting and twisting, and bending for long periods.   Degenerative Disc Disease   Degenerative Disc Disease is characterized by damage to the nerves between the spinal vertebrae and bones. Symptoms are numbness, pain, and weakness of the leg and hips. Pain may also occur in the arms and upper back. This condition is often worsened smoking and obesity. Construction site risks include repetitive heavy lifting and intense physical work.   Raynaud’s Syndrome   Raynaud’s Syndrome (also known as White Finger Disease) affects the nerves and blood vessels of the hands. The symptoms are numbness, tingling, and weakness of the fingers. Fingers may also change colors from pale white, to blue, then red. This condition is often aggravated by cold weather and smoking. The main construction site risk is the continuous use of vibrating hand tools.   Tendinitis   Tendinitis is inflammation of the tendons affecting the wrist (Tenosynovitis), fingers (Trigger Finger), Thumb (De Quervain’s Disease), or Elbow (Epicondylitis). Symptoms are burning pain, dull ache, swelling, jerking movements, and cysts of the affected area. Common construction risks include repetition of the following actions: use of hand and power tools, rotating and twisting movements, use of tools that are not the appropriate size for the operator.   Thoracic Outlet Syndrome   Thoracic Outlet Syndrome is characterized by compression and reduced blood flow to the shoulder and arm. Symptoms include pain in the neck, shoulder, arm, or hand, numbness of the fingers or arms, and weakness of the hand. Construction site risks include repetition of the following actions: reaching above the head and carrying heavy objects with the arms extended downward.  

Stress Disorders Linked to Job Function

  Risk Factors are types of activities or conditions that increase the chances of certain repetitive stress disorders. There are some job functions associated with specific body parts because of common risk factors.  

  • -Neck Conditions: Commonly associated with painters, sheet metal workers, and other contractors that work overhead.
  • -Shoulder Conditions: Painters, sheet metal workers, insulators, and scaffold erectors.
  • -Wrist Conditions: Carpenters, rod-men, roofers, sheet metal workers, masons, and other workers that use hand tools.
  • -Hand Conditions: Carpenters, lumberjacks, electricians, sheet metal workers, and other workers that use jack hammers or vibrating tools.
  • -Knee Conditions: Floor layers, roofers, sheet metal workers, insulators, carpenters, and other workers that often kneel or work at floor level.
  • -Back Conditions: Laborers, scaffold erectors, and other workers that lift and carry heavy equipment.

  Since construction workers are often expected to perform the same tasks over and over again each day, it is understandable that these injuries occur. However, that does not mean that victims should consider it “just another part of the job.” Your health matters and you have the right to seek compensation for your pain and medical treatment.  

How a Repetitive Stress Injury Can Affect Workers’ Compensation

  Make sure to report your repetitive stress injury to your employer in a timely fashion when you realize it was caused by your job duties. This is the first and a very crucial step in the workers’ compensation process because “notice of injury” is essential to filing a claim. Your employer will then direct you to the appropriate physician for medical care. New Jersey workers’ compensation law provides a statute of limitations of two years from the date of injury. For conditions developed gradually, that is two years from the date the victim first realized the condition was caused by their job duties.   If you have received a repetitive stress injury at work, we can offer another helpful bit of information right now: Since this type of damage occur gradually or develop over time, it may be more difficult to prove the injury is a result of your job duties. Insurance companies could easily attempt to argue that the injury resulted from some unrelated activities or a recent accident. Our best advice is to seek the guidance and support of an experienced attorney who will work hard for you.   A skilled lawyer will put all of their efforts toward gathering evidence, contacting witnesses, and developing a case that proves your injury was caused by job duties and should make you eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. They will have experienced working with tricky insurance companies and identify any possible ways to discredit you or your injury. In that situation, they will figure out the best way to proceed so that the truth is ultimately recognized.  

Next Steps for Construction Workers with Repetitive Stress Injury

  If you are a contractor that has suffered a repetitive stress injury and are unsure what to do next, the Hayes Firm can help. We are a free lawyer-finding service with an extensive network of carefully screened New Jersey lawyers. All of the attorneys in our network our experienced, successful, and knowledgeable of New Jersey workers’ compensation law. After we receive your call or e-mail, we will review your case as soon as possible. We will then connect you with a local attorney free of charge if we believe further legal action is necessary. Contact the Hayes Firm to find the best workers’ compensation attorney near you today.  

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