According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), musculoskeletal disorders, also known as RSDs, are injuries to the soft tissue in the body. These injuries can occur due to continued or sustained exposure to repetitive motions. When this occurs, in a Boston workers’ compensation case, the musculoskeletal disorder is commonly called a repetitive stress injury (RSI).
Musculoskeletal disorders can also occur on the job due to excessive force injuries, extreme or continuous vibrations, and having to work in awkward positions. This can include bending and lifting things at odd angles.
Occupational musculoskeletal disorders can occur absent any other injury, or they can occur in conjunction with another on-the-job injury. For example, if a worker is injured while at work and suffers a broken arm, there will be the damage to the bone that can include an open or closed fracture, but there can also be soft tissue damage leaving the employee with a musculoskeletal disorder. In some cases, the musculoskeletal disorder will be a secondary condition that occurs at the same time as the initial on-the-job accident, and in other cases, it might occur at some time after the initial workplace accident has occurred.
When an employee sustains an on-the-job injury, they must report it to their employer so that the employer can set up a workers’ compensation claim with the insurance company. If an employee has left the job and is now working for a new employer, both the old and new employer may need to establish workers’ compensation claims with each of their insurance companies, as either job may have contributed or caused the musculoskeletal disorder. This doesn’t mean that an employee cannot collect benefits, but due to the complex nature of some of these cases, the employee may face a tougher battle in obtaining the proper benefits. Speaking with an experienced Boston workers’ compensation attorney who has experience dealing with these types of cases in the past can be crucial to the injured worker’s chances of success.
Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 152, Section 15A, discusses situations where there is more than one workers’ compensation insurance company involved and there is a “controversy’ as to which insurer is liable. Pursuant to this section, when a claim is filed involving two or more insurance companies and the employee’s disability status is not at issue, the employee shall be paid the benefits they are entitled to. The insurance companies arguing as to which company should pay what portion of the damages could then bring a claim before the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents Board (DIA), so the Board can then hold a hearing to determine which company will ultimately be responsible for what percentage of the benefits.
If the insurance companies do not agree that the employee is entitled to workers’ compensation benefits, regardless of which company would be liable, the question of liability must be resolved by administrative law judges (ALJ) at the DIA before any argument as to which insurance company will be liable will be considered.Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
Carpal tunnel syndrome, also known as CTS, is a painful musculoskeletal disorder that can make it very difficult, if not virtually impossible for many employees to work their normal jobs. This is one of the more common work-related musculoskeletal disorders seen by our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys.
The carpal tunnel is a protective sheath that surrounds a bundle of nerves. These nerves run through the wrist inside the carpal tunnel and control the movement of the hand and fingers. These nerves also control the ability to sense what the hand touches. If the worker has a job that involves repetitive movements or suffers trauma to the wrist, carpal tunnel syndrome could develop. Symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome typically involve extreme pain, weakness of the hand and fingers, the inability to form a fist or grip objects, pins, and needles, and a numb sensation.
Many workers do not report their symptoms to their employers, either because they are afraid to speak out or they believe the pain will go away on its own. Unfortunately, carpal tunnel syndrome does not generally go away on its own, and braces or other remedies are often required. If those fail, employees will often consult with their doctors and review surgical options to resolve the pain.
Carpal tunnel syndrome can occur in many occupations. Individuals frequently think of office jobs and computer work as those most likely to result in work-related carpal tunnel issues. While this is true, other jobs also pose a significant risk. For example, those individuals that work in a factory or other labor-intensive occupation may also develop carpal tunnel syndrome, especially if proper ergonomic techniques are not exercised. One of the worst occupations for getting carpal tunnel syndrome is something like seafood and other food processing, occupations that are prevalent throughout Massachusetts and the greater Boston area. These jobs are particularly susceptible to carpal tunnel syndrome due to workers submerging their hands for long periods of time in cold water or ice. The lower temperatures can slow blood flow and lead to major hand injuries. Kitchen work, such as being a line cook, requires completing a lot of repetitive tasks, which require an employee to exert a considerable amount of force on their hands. For example, clearing a grill with a grill brick and lemon juice requires a lot of hard scraping, and doing this day after day could result in a musculoskeletal disorder.
If you have suffered a work-related musculoskeletal disorder, our dedicated team of attorneys can help.