People often associate carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) as a repetitive stress injury (RSI) that is typically caused at work. While this is true, many people do not associate carpal tunnel syndrome with an on-the-job injury or illness for which they can and should file a workers’ compensation claim. We tend to see employees who try to manage the condition themselves by purchasing hand braces at the local drugstore, or simply take over-the-counter pain medication or use an ice pack.
Carpal tunnel syndrome is caused when repetitive stress, or in some cases an acute trauma, causes the carpal tunnel to become compressed. The carpal tunnel is basically a tube surround a bundle of nerves that run through the wrist into the base of the hand. These nerves are responsible for the movement of the fingers. When the carpal tunnel becomes pinched, the worker will experience pain and weakness in the hand and fingers. The pain can also radiate up and down the entire arm, making it nearly impossible and painful to do anything.
Many workers also expect the pain to get better at the end of the day when the employee goes home. In reality, the exact opposite is often true. A typical case of carpal tunnel syndrome will get worse throughout the day, and pain can radiate up and down the arm to the point where the worker cannot sleep.
As it turns out, one of the most common ways for an average worker to get carpal tunnel syndrome is by using a handheld inventory scanner all day. Anyone who has ever worked in a warehouse or a big box store has probably seen or used one of these devices often called a personal data terminal or (PTD). These devices are also called a “brick on a stick” in the industry, as they are essentially a heavy square box with a pistol grip. To keep workers’ compensation claims down and to make workers more comfortable, these companies are working together to develop a handheld inventory scanner that is ergonomically correct, so that it does not cause workers to develop a repetitive stress injury, according to recent news article from the Wall Street Journal.
There are a variety of devices being considered to replace the brick on a stick. One of the more interesting and creative ideas is placing the scanner in a ring, and, when the ring is passed over a barcode, it will scan the product for inventory purposes. There is also a plan to experiment with using a modified smart phone app that will allow the user to scan products.
Regardless of exactly how a particular case of carpal tunnel syndrome was caused, if it was caused by your occupation, it is important to immediately report your condition to the employer. Some people try to avoid saying anything to their supervisor to see if the pain goes way on its own. The pain will not go away, and you may miss your chance to file a claim if you wait to long to consult with an experienced Boston workers’ compensation lawyer.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a Boston work accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Bar-Code Readers Get Makeover to Spur Bustling Warehouses, January 9, 2016, Wall Street Journal, By Loretta Chao
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