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.
Hearing your doctor utter the words, "We’re going to have to operate," can send a shiver down your spine. Immediately, questions about the seriousness of your condition, the procedure itself, and the likelihood that it will cure what ails you flood the mind. Then, there is the prospect of post-surgery pain. How badly is this going to hurt?
The bad news is that some pain is an inevitable companion to most types of surgery. The good news is that there are many highly effective medications to keep...
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.