Office workers 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. In some offices, the clerk will process documents, expenditures, receipts, applications, and reports using a dedicated or shared computer. Some office workers, especially receptionists, are expected to communicate with customers, addressed complaints, take orders, and explain/disseminate information.
Support staff, clerks and office workers typically begin their career at an entry-level position. 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.
According to data maintained by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the future employment right for office workers, clerks and support staff is "expected to be slow" in a variety of industries including healthcare. Only those individuals who are more advanced in handling technical office equipment, electronics and computers will be assured of maintaining employment in the years ahead.
If you or a family member was injured while working at an office, you are likely entitled to workers compensation benefits. Contact the workers compensation attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC for more information and a free review of 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 specialize offices like medical professions and law firms. Some of these specialized positions include:
- Legal Office Assistants are trained to prepare legal documents for lawyers. Some of 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 that are used in the engineering field.
- Medical Office Assistants are trained to assist medical professionals in a hospital or doctor's setting. These individuals are usually responsible for updating, maintaining and organizing patient records. Other duties might include dealing with insurance companies and billing information.
- Government Office Assistants received training to comprehend government procedures and regulations better. Some duties include filling out forms, communicating with the public, and organizing data.
- Educational Office Assistants usually works as a member of a support team for educational institutions. Their duties often include tracking student records, maintaining teacher's 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 workers perform their duties in an enclosed environment or confined space that present 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 that could lead to concentrated exposure to environmental toxins
- Toxic substance exposure
- Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) that are typically caused by an improper ergonomic work environment or excessive computer use.
- Working in awkward postures for extended periods of time
- Slipping, tripping, and falling
- Exposure to uncomfortable temperatures that are either too hot or too cold
- Eye strain
- Performing repetitive tasks using the shoulders, hands, wrists, and fingers.
- Sitting for extended amounts of time.
- Working in non-ergonomic chairs
- Injuries by falling objects including files and stacked office products.
- Injuries caused by misusing office equipment including making a stepstool out of an office chair.
- Injuries caused by heavy lifting and stacking
- Working alone
- Office bullying
- Intensified stress levels caused by working in a busy environment
- Noise pollution caused by working in 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 in front of a computer screen. Usually, the only movement they make for hours at a time is manipulating the computer mouse. While this improves employee productivity, the worker typically pays the price through an increase of job-related injuries caused by non-ergonomic factors and repetitive movement.
Many companies refused to ensure the health and well-being of the 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 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 injuries are the results are of overuse or improper technique. The employee will first detect the signs and symptoms of repetitive strain injuries that usually 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.
Workers who believe they are developing the early signs of repetitive strain injury should speak to their boss, the HR Department, or an Occupational Health Representative. There may be more than one option for modifying daily tasks to minimize the common symptoms associated with the condition. A quick step to better health might include minimizing repetitive activities, using ergonomic chairs for better posture, and taking breaks between high-intensity activities. 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 failed 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 is the result of inflammation of a fluid-filled sac or joint cushion (the bursa). The inflammation often presents itself as swelling and pain at the affected joint that is 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 carpal tunnel syndrome from tedious activities like typing.
- Epicondylitis – Often referred to as "tennis elbow," epicondylitis presents itself is 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 first 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 overactivity or under-activity while sitting or standing in awkward positions.
- Patellofemoral Syndrome – If the kneecap is allowed to break down or soften through climbing stairs, kneeling or squatting, it can aggravate the knee and cause extensive pain. Typically, after the condition begins, it is difficult to control, manage or cure.
- Stress Fractures – The tiny cracks that appear on the surface of a bone are considered stress fractures. These 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. Tendinitis is the result of muscle overuse or repetitive overstretching of the joints tendons. The condition can begin in nearly any joint including the neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, fingers, knees, hips, and ankles.
Office Workers' 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 area. On average, Office Workers in northeastern Illinois earn $36,680 every year (mean wage), which is $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. Often, workers and co-workers are intimidated, threatened and abused in their workplace by a variety of different actions including:
- Threatening Behavior where the boss, coworker, visitor or other shakes their fist, throws objects, or destroyed property.
- Written or Verbal Threats that express the intention of inflicting harm.
- Harassment that alarms embarrasses, demeans, annoys, humiliates, or verbally mistreats an individual is considered harassment including those that are performed by bullying, intimidation, gestures, or spoken through words and inappropriate activities.
- Verbal Assault that includes condescending language, insults, and swearing.
- Physical Attack that could involve shaking, punching, slapping, shoving, and hitting.
- Sexual Abuse that could involve physical, 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, the physical, mental, or emotional assault does not have to occur only in the traditional workplace. Assault and violence can present itself at off-site functions that are business related including at trade shows, conferences, overnight meetings, and events that are associated with work. Danger zones include meeting in client's homes or through telephonic means when the perpetrator or bully verbally assaults the office worker victim.
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 manhunt. Law enforcement arrested the 37-year-old Elkton Maryland suspect one state away in Delaware after he allegedly shot five individuals at the Maryland company. The suspect is alleged to have 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. Earlier in the year, the suspect lost his job at a different marble and granite company for allegedly punching his work colleagues.
The increased risk of violence occurs at various times of the day, night, month and year. Office 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 that has a heightened risk of violent crime like a bank or bar.
Employers can take proactive measures in preventing and minimizing violent hazards in the workplace. Some measure include establishing, implementing and enforcing a zero-tolerance policy that will not abide by any form of workplace violence, including mental and emotional abuse. This policy should include and extend to every worker, client, visitor, manager, boss, or others who come in contact with, work with, or visit any company personnel. The zero-tolerance policy should be included in the employee handbook and safety and health documentation that identifies the policy as a standard operating procedure.
Want to Make Sure You are Fully Compensated for Your Injuries?
Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers (888-424-5757) assists injured Office Workers get monetary recovery under the IL Worker's Compensation Act and through civil lawsuits. We provide Free Case Reviews and a No-Win/No Fee guarantee.
Did you suffer an injury at work or become ill because of a related hazard associated with your job? You may be worrying about how you will provide the necessities and pay the bills for your family during your recovery. You may believe that you are too sick or too hurt to ever return to work in fear that you will lose the family home, the car, and your ability to provide for your loved ones in the future.
You may have no idea where to turn to recover financially from an occupational injury. Many individuals just like you have been in the same situation in the past and sought counsel and advice of a reputable personal injury attorney. Our law firm has assisted thousands of individuals in nearly every occupation, and our attorneys can help your family too.
Contact An Office Workers Compensation & Injury Law Firm
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