Office jobs are often considered safe, but the reality is that they can be very dangerous. Office workers face many hazards in the workplace, and every year workers in these perceived “safe” environments suffer serious work injuries or even die while on the job.
Office workers often don’t think of their job as being dangerous. Still, the reality is that there are a lot of hazards in an office setting, like slips and falls, carpal tunnel syndrome, and other musculoskeletal disorders are just some of the risks office workers face each day.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our Illinois personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for Chicago office workers who have been injured on the job. Let our team of legal experts ensure you receive maximum compensation for your workers’ compensation benefits.
Contact our Chicago workers’ compensation attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today for immediate legal advice and schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
Office employees typically support the administrative staff by performing various basic tasks, including answering phone calls, distributing memos, making personal inquiries, updating the filing system, managing inventory, using a database system, photocopying and collating documents, faxing paperwork, and handling courier packages.
The clerk will process documents, expenditures, receipts, applications, and reports using a dedicated or shared computer in some offices.
In addition, some office employees, especially receptionists, are expected to communicate with customers, address complaints, take orders, and explain/disseminate information.
Support staff, clerks, and office employees typically begin their careers at entry-level positions.
However, over time, the efficiency and productivity of their work performance can improve significantly and increase the potential opportunities for advancement to an assistant, office manager, or other senior position.
If you or a family member were injured while working at an office, you are likely entitled to workers’ compensation benefits.
Contact our workers’ compensation attorneys for more information and a free consultation to discuss your legal rights and options.
Specialized Office Workers
In some offices, the boss will expect the office worker to have a specialized skill to better serve as a support team member for specialized offices like medical professions and law firms.
Some of these specialized positions include:
- Legal Office Assistants are trained to prepare legal documents for lawyers. These documents will include motions, summons, complaints, subpoenas, and responses.
- Technical Office Assistants receive training to assist engineers and other technical professionals. Their work is based on technical libraries and databases used in the engineering field.
- Medical Office Assistants are trained to assist medical professionals in hospitals or doctors’ settings. These individuals are usually responsible for updating, maintaining, and organizing patient records. Other duties might include dealing with insurance companies and billing information.
- Educational Office Assistants usually work as support team members for educational institutions. Their duties often include tracking student records, maintaining teachers’ calendars, scheduling classes, and organizing communication between the teacher, student, and parents.
Usually, the office worker will be assigned duties based on office procedures, experience, and seniority.
Office Worker Health Concerns
Most office employees perform their duties in an enclosed environment or confined space that presents various hazards that might exacerbate over a lifetime of work. Some of the major safety and health concerns for office workers include:
- Poor indoor air quality leads to concentrated exposure to environmental toxins
- Toxic substance exposure
- Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) from an improper ergonomic work environment or excessive computer use
- Working in awkward postures for an extended time
- Slipping, tripping, and falling
- Exposure to uncomfortable temperatures, either too hot or too cold
- Performing repetitive tasks using the shoulders, hands, wrists, and fingers
- Sitting for an extended time
- Injured while working in non-ergonomic chairs
- Injuries by falling objects, including files and stacked office products
- Fall injuries caused by misusing office equipment, including using an office chair as a step stool
- Injuries caused by heavy lifting and stacking
- Working alone
- Office bullying
- Intensified stress levels caused by working in a busy environment
- Noise pollution from an excessively loud environment
- Fire hazards
- Safe egress
- Risk of violence
Nearly every office worker performs a duty for eight hours while sitting in a stationary place at a computer screen. Usually, the only movement they make for hours is manipulating the computer mouse.
While this improves employee productivity, the worker typically pays the price by increasing job-related injuries caused by non-ergonomic factors and repetitive movement.
Many companies refused to ensure the health and well-being of their employee by providing proper ergonomics. Even if the worker has the best chair, desk, and other equipment, without adequate training on how to use the equipment properly, the results can be as harmful in causing chronic problems and office work injuries down the road.
Repetitive strain injury (repetitive motion injury) can cause significant harm to the worker’s muscles, ligaments, nerves, and tendons. Usually, these office work injuries result from overuse or improper technique.
The employee will first detect the signs and symptoms of repetitive strain injuries that generally present as tingling, tenderness, throbbing, weakness, cramping, or stiffness in the fingers, hands, wrists, arms, elbows, shoulders, or neck.
Preliminary treatment of repetitive motion injury often involves taking anti-inflammatory drugs. However, over time the worker may need to undergo an ergonomic evaluation and perform physical therapy to minimize their symptoms.
A quick step to better health might include minimizing repetitive activities, using ergonomic chairs for better posture, and taking breaks between high-intensity activities.
For example, workers who sit at the desk in front of the computer all day should ensure that their monitor, mouse, keyboard, and seek are properly positioned to minimize strain on any part of the body.
A Progressive Problem
Workers who fail to take the necessary measures to change their activities in the way they perform their duties who develop repetitive stress injuries could have a progressive problem that lasts long into their retirement years.
Common problems associated with RSI if allowed to progress include:
- Bursitis – This condition results from inflammation of a fluid-filled sac or joint cushion (the bursa). The inflammation often presents as swelling and pain at the affected joint, usually caused by overhead reaching, carrying heavy loads, or overusing joints.
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome – When the ligament in the narrow tunnel in the wrist bone swells, it can cause significant numbness, tingling, weakness, and pain. Repetitive motion is often the cause of all repetitive strain injuries, including carpal tunnel syndrome from tedious activities like typing.
- Epicondylitis – Often referred to as “tennis elbow,” epicondylitis presents itself as swelling or pain at the elbow caused by overactivity.
- Shin Splints – Individuals with intense pain at the front of the lower leg or shin often believe that they have fractured their bones. While the condition is usually harmless, the pain can be unbearable at times. Shin splints are usually the result of overactive or underactive muscle use while sitting or standing in awkward positions.
- Stress Fractures – The tiny cracks that appear on the surface of a bone are considered stress fractures. These office work injuries are often the result of repetitive overloading while the bone is under stress.
- Tendinitis – This condition develops if the tendon becomes inflamed, tears, or stretches. The condition can begin in nearly any joint, including the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, knees, hips, and ankles. Tendinitis leads to repetitive strain injuries resulting from overusing or repetitively overstretching of the joint tendons.
Office Worker’s Wages
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics 2016, data concerning the employment statistics of the previous year, 87,660 office workers were working in the Chicago, Naperville, and Arlington Heights metropolitan areas.
On average, office workers in northeastern Illinois earn $36,680 every year (mean wage), $17.63 per hour. The wage is significantly higher than the national average. See Chart
While workplace violence is typically thought of as physical assault, the problem is much broader in scope.
According to OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), workers and co-workers are often intimidated, threatened, and abused in their workplace by actions, including:
- Threatening Behavior where the boss, coworker, visitor, or other shakes their fist, throws objects, or destroys property.
- Written or Verbal Threats that express the intention of inflicting harm are also forms of work injuries.
- Harassment that alarms, embarrasses, demeans, annoys, humiliates, or verbally mistreats an individual is considered a harassing injury, including those performed by bullying, intimidation, gestures, or spoken through words and inappropriate activities.
- Verbal Assault which includes condescending language, insults, and swearing is also a work injury where the injured worker should be protected by their employer.
- Physical Attacks that could involve shaking, punching, slapping, shoving, and hitting are all preventable work injuries.
- Sexual Abuse could involve physical, or sexual assault, including rape or inappropriate sexual behavior.
Any swearing, rumor, print material, argument, verbal abuse, sabotage, vandalism, theft, pushing, psychological trauma, or anger-associated incident can be classified as workplace violence. Additionally, physical, mental, or emotional assault does not occur only in the traditional workplace.
Violent Office Work Injuries
Assault and violence can occur at off-site business-related functions, including at trade shows, conferences, overnight meetings, and events associated with work.
- October 2017: Maryland – A granite company worker opened fire on co-workers, killing three employees at the facility, and fled the scene, resulting in a massive search. Law enforcement arrested the 37-year-old Elkton, Maryland suspect one state away in Delaware after allegedly shooting five individuals at the Maryland company.
Additionally, the suspect has shot an acquaintance in the head at a Delaware car lot. This horrific event was not the first time the suspect was violent to coworkers. The suspect lost his job at a different marble and granite company earlier in the year for allegedly punching his work colleagues.
The increased risk of violence occurs at various times of the day, night, month, and year. Therefore, workers should take necessary precautions when working during the early hours of the morning and the late hours of the evening, on paydays, or working near a business or building with a heightened risk of violent crime like a bank or bar.
Employers can take proactive measures to prevent and minimize violent hazards in the workplace. Some measures include establishing, implementing, and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy that will not abide by any form of workplace violence, including mental and emotional abuse.
Do you believe that you are the victim of violence where the injury occurred in the workplace? If so, contact our work injury attorneys today to discuss your legal option. You are likely entitled to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
While the workers’ compensation benefits will pay for your time away from work and medical bills, you are likely entitled to file for additional monetary recovery through third-party claims filed against your employer, the perpetrator, and others.
According to state law, these personal injury claims should be filed quickly before the statute of limitations expires.
How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim
The worker’s compensation program is a no-fault system. All injured workers are entitled to receive payments for a workplace injury, even if they caused their own moderate to serious injuries.
All injured workers have the legal right to file workers’ compensation claims when harmed or in workplace accidents. However, the steps to receive workers’ compensation benefits can be challenging, especially if the insurer denies or delays payment for work injuries.
By law, every employer must carry workers’ compensation insurance for every employee that provides financial compensation for a work injury.
Typically, the work injury claim will provide injury and death benefits that cover:
- Hospitalization and medical bills
- Future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Total or partial disability payments
- Funeral bills and burial expenses
The benefits cover workplace injuries and any occupational illness requiring minor to extensive medical treatment, like exposure to asbestos or other hazardous chemicals in the office space. In some cases, office injuries take years to be diagnosed, where the injury or illness is not apparent until disabling injuries arise.
Contact A Chicago Office Workers Compensation & Injury Law Firm
Retaining our reputable personal injury attorneys will allow you to ensure you successfully resolve your case while you recover. We accept every compensation claim through contingency fee arrangements.
This agreement postpones legal fees until the law firm has successfully resolved the case through a negotiated out-of-court settlement or winning a jury trial award.
Call our Chicago, Illinois work injury lawyers today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) to discuss how our legal services can help maximize your workers’ comp benefits during a free consultation.