If you have lost your job, your employer is still responsible for any work related injuries caused by repetitive stress for a period of two years from the date you last worked or, in some cases such as exposure to harmful chemicals, the date your condition is diagnosed by a doctor. Below are some examples of repetitive stress injuries and occupational diseases, what you should do if you are suffering from repetitive stress injuries and what benefits you are entitled to.
REPETITIVE STRESS INJURIES AND OCCUPATIONAL DISEASE
- Repetitive lifting, reaching overhead, bending, kneeling, and climbing are all examples of the type of movements workers perform on a daily basis.
- Exposure to harmful chemicals or particulate matter
- Repetitive Stress Injuries do not have to be solely caused by work, the courts require proof that the work caused the aggravation, acceleration or exacerbation of the injuries.
- The work exposure needs only to be a material cause of the injury.
- It is sufficient to prove that the risk or danger in the workplace is a contributing cause.
- Your work effort can even aggravate a prior injury.
- More than just the normal aging process
- MUST BE BASED ON OBJECTIVE MEDICAL EVIDENCE OF A DISABILITY – includes medical diagnosis of your physician, Diagnostic Studies such as MRI’s, X-Ray’s or an EMG. For Lung problems, a pulmonary function test and a chest x-ray.
3 SPECIFIC WORKERS’ COMPENSATION BENEFITS
- Medical treatment provided by your employer
- Temporary disability benefits and
- Permanent Disability – a monetary award based on the degree of permanent injury.
- Hands – Carpal Tunnel Syndrome due to repetitive use of the hands in assembly work, caused by repetitive heavy lifting
- Arms – overuse injuries of the arm, such as epicondylitis in the elbow
- Feet – Plantar Fascitis – a foot condition that can be caused by standing on a hard surface
- Lungs – breathing problems resulting from exposure to harmful substances
- Heart – caused by the stress and strain of work
TIME LIMITS TO FILE A CLAIM
You must file a workers’ compensation claim within 2 years of the last date of occupational exposure, meaning the last date you performed the work for your employer. In the case of a plant closing, this is two years from the date of the closing
In certain cases, the two year period does not start until you are actually diagnosed by your doctor. This is more common with cases involving exposure to chemicals, in which symptoms emerge later.
You must file a claim petition within 2 years of a specific accident OR 2 years of the last benefits paid by your employer. REPORT any accident sustained prior to the plant closing and ask for a copy of the accident report – even if you do not require immediate medical treatment.