The Injured Workers Puzzle Picture Part 3: Types Of Work Injuries
As we discussed in part 2 of this series, all injuries and conditions suffered by a worker are covered on a “no-fault” basis – regardless of how it happened.
Now let’s take a look at the different types of work injuries that are covered by the California Workers Compensation System.
When you can identify the specific place and time you first experienced pain, that usually establishes a specific injury. Lifting a box and feeling a “pop” in your back, falling, or being the victim of assault are all examples of a specific injury.
However, specific injuries are not always obvious. Take, for example, the victims exposed to massive levels of toxic smoke on 9/11, the harmful effects on their lungs were not known for years after that.
Injury can occur over time as well. Much like mileage on a car, the joints and systems of the body can suffer “wear and tear” due to exposure to repetitive activity or exposure to dangerous materials.
Medical studies have determined that repetitive activity can lead to arthritis in a joint because the body may not have adequate time to rest and restore itself before the activity is resumed.
Also, exposure to solvents and other toxic materials over time may lead to forms of cancer, lung injury, and organ failure. Hostile work environments could harm the heart, blood pressure, and chronic conditions such as diabetes.
According to OSHA estimates, Cumulative Trauma Injuries ( also known as Repetitive Strain Injuries, or “RSIs”) are a serious threat not only to the health of the workforce but also to the company bottom line, with approximately 20 billion dollars in workers’ compensation claims paid every year.
Both specific and cumulative trauma injuries can occur at the same time. For example, a worker who is engaged in repetitive activities over time may be at increased risk for a specific injury due to the weakened state of the joint. Similarly, a specific injury may place the worker at a higher risk for cumulative injury as they try to carry out their work activities while still recuperating.
Each person and each injury is unique and requires an individual analysis. Whether the injury was caused by a specific event, or due to work activities over time ( or both ), the effects can be devastating to a worker physically, emotionally, and financially.
Having the right doctor documenting your injuries and supervising your care can make the difference between having a significant permanent disability and making a good recovery.
Getting the right doctors involved in your case is essential – a topic we’ll cover in the next segment.
– Tom Martin