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How common are workplace injuries?

Workplace injuries are more prevalent than one would think. In 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that musculoskeletal disorders account for 29% of all lost days from work. This is a large percentage considering includes general illness, maternity leave, and absenteeism is included in these data. The 2007, BLS report also showed that carpal tunnel syndrome yields an average of 28 days lost of work per injury. In 2002, Liberty Mutual stated approximately 33% of all days lost at work are secondary to repetitive motion and ergonomic risk factors that cause musculoskeletal disorders.

In today’s technological workplace, our bodies are asked to perform repetitive motion daily. These repetitive motions include movements such as data entry, constant reaching, or bending. These repetitive motions yield cumulative tissue changes, which ultimately lead to improper joint mechanics and suboptimal muscle firing. This is a common cause for repetitive injury. In 2007, the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Review Board of California stated that the average back injury will cost an employer $45,000 per injury. The Insurance Information Institute report shows that indemnity (payment for lost work days) rates have doubled from 1997-2008. This rate increase can be attributed to the increased lost work days from work.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Most Americans between age twenty-two and sixty-five (more than 120 million of us) spend 40 percent of our waking hours at work. Most jobs carry a certain amount of risk due to accidental injury -- even the jobs we think of as very safe, such as desk jobs -- where people sitting at a keyboard all day long are prone to carpal tunnel. And then there are the more obviously risky jobs, like being a painter or window washer on high scaffolding (talk about aging events, my patient the window washer was on the scaffold of the 38th floor at the Bank of America building when the earthquake hit San Francisco -- he had to use the squeegee just to try and slow down the scaffolds rocking movement). Each year, 6,500 Americans die from work-related injuries, and 13.2 million suffer nonfatal injuries. Think about the risks you face on the job and the steps you can take to avoid them.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.