Feb. 21, 2000 (Washington) -- The meat cutter's shoulder may hurt from
cutting chickens and the autoworker' s back may ache from hanging doors on
Chevrolets, but are those injuries covered under the Occupational Safety and
Health Administrations's new ergonomic rules?
The proposed guidelines define a musculoskeletal disorder as an "injury
or disorder of the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, cartilage, and spinal
discs." Signs of an injury include decreased grip strength or range of
motion, or deformity or loss of function.
Prescription pain medicine addiction grabs headlines when it sends
celebrities spinning out of control. It also plagues many people out of the
spotlight who grapple with painkiller addiction behind closed doors.
But although widespread, addiction to prescription painkillers is also
widely misunderstood -- and those misunderstandings can be dangerous and
frightening for patients dealing with pain.
Where is the line between appropriate use and addiction to prescription pain
medicines? And how...
For upper extremity injuries like carpal tunnel syndrome, symptoms include
numbness, tingling, pain, burning, and cramping in the arms, fingers, or hands.
To be covered under the OSHA guidelines, an injury must be diagnosed by a
health care professional. It also has to be serious enough to require medical
treatment and to require that the employee spend one or more days away from
work or be assigned to a less strenuous job.
The condition also needs to be directly related to the employee's job. For
example, a warehouse worker's back injury would likely be covered, but his
carpal tunnel syndrome probably would not, unless a lot of his job involves
entering inventory information into a computer. An injury must also involve a
worker's "core" duties: If a poultry processor hurts her back because
she routinely changes the water bottle in the break room, the ergonomics
requirements would not apply.