Most people do not get injured at work, but it does happen. Work-related injuries can happen in any work-related environment, however most work-related injuries are connected to an office environment. In an office workplace, an employee can experience several different types of compensable injuries. But the two main categories that office-related injuries tend to fall into are accidents and/or occupational diseases.
Accidents in the Office
An injury that occurs in an office that qualifies as an accident is one which has a single incident of trauma. The types of injuries that can come about from experiencing a one-time office related trauma include:
- Back injury – from a single incident of lifting, pushing/pulling or moving
- Office supplies
- Large packages
- Falling – as a result of slipping on a wet surface or using a ladder in
- Community areas such as kitchens
- Outside walkways
- Tripping – due to clutter or faulty flooring in any office area
- Loose carpeting
- Broken floor tiles
- Maneuvering around boxes or stocked items
- Bruises and Cuts – related to the use of office supplies/materials
- Use of box knives to open supplies
- Banging a hand or a leg into a protruding object
All of these types of injuries tend to occur as a result of a lack of careful use and/or safety planning. One way to prevent these types of office-related injuries is to be sure that all walkways and community areas are free from clutter, including boxes of product or office supplies; and that all office areas are free of spillages or damaged flooring. The balance of work-related injuries tends to occur as the result of a lack of safety instruction or a lapse in using safe procedures. For example, it is important to school employees in the proper way to lift or move large items, such as furniture. Or to take the time to show an employee the proper way to use work-related tools, such as a demonstration on the proper technique for using a box cutter.
Cumulative Trauma Injuries in the Office
The second manner in which people are injured in an office environment is by repetitive motions that are associated with doing their job. For example, typing, filing, kneeling, squatting or any other form of activity that is done repeatedly during the course of the workday. Some of these injuries have specific names such as carpal tunnel syndrome and affect particular areas of the body, such as the hands and/or wrists. Other stress-related injuries do not have a specific name but are simply the result of wear and tear on the body over months, and even years, of repetitive physical motion. An example of this might be someone who spends their day kneeling to put in carpeting or repeatedly squatting and standing to stack shelves. When someone is injured in this manner, it is called a repetitive trauma injury and is also compensable.
Filing A Claim for Compensation
In either instance, be it an accident or repetitive trauma, an injured employee needs to give notice to their employer of the injury they have suffered. Once notice is given, the employer must provide the employee with the necessary paperwork to file a workers’ compensation claim. An employee must then complete the paperwork and return it to their employer. If the paperwork is not completed, a successful claim cannot be filed.
Once these steps are completed, the employee is responsible for seeking proper medical treatment to aid in their recovery or to mitigate any increase in physical damage or incapacity. If possible, the employee should continue to work. If continuing to work requires some form of workplace modification, the employer should make those modifications to assist the employee in remaining employable. The cost of seeking medical treatment or modifications to the work environment will fall upon the employer.
If the claim becomes more complicated and an employee is missing more time from work, or the employer refuses to accept that the injury is work-related, then an employee should seek legal assistance from a solicitor who specializes in the area of workers’ compensation law.
If you find yourself in need of assistance with this or any other legal issue, please contact the law offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780.