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Common Workplace Injuries in an Office Environment

On Behalf of | Nov 13, 2018 | Workers' Compensation

office work injury

Minnesota Workplace Injury Attorney

When you hear about someone getting worker’s compensation for a workplace injury, the image that always comes to mind is someone who works on a factory floor, in construction, or perhaps roof repair. In the minds of most people, workplace injuries happen to people who wear hard-hats in a work environment that is known to be hazardous, not to “safe” office workers in a quiet, carpeted workplace.

The reality is that workplace injuries happen everywhere, and often for the same reasons. Barring extreme cases relating to power tools or scaffolding, office workers still regularly suffer from falls, burns, crushing damage, impacts, and even workplace violence. The problem is that because offices are considered much safer than jobs that require safety gear, the injuries that occur in an office are often significantly underplayed which can undermine your legitimate worker’s compensation claim.

Office Workers and Falling Injuries

There is one shocking statistic that should stop in their tracks anyone who scoffs at office injuries: Office workers are 2 to 2.5 times more likely to suffer from a disabling fall than someone in a more traditionally hazardous job. This statistic seems impossible, after all, office workers are almost never high above the ground or asked to climb a ladder.

The reason for this increased likelihood of falling injuries is precisely because office are considered so safe. No one bothers to take the usual practical precautions to prevent falls so every-day actions can result in terrible, disabling injuries.

Office workers are not provided with ladders, so when they need something from a top shelf they are expected to climb on a chair or filing cabinet to get it. Power, phone, and internet cables strung across the floor are not covered, by policy, with a rubber cable-channel and therefore become a dangerous tripping hazard. Some workplaces even neglect the traction strips or handrail upkeep on stairways which can lead to debilitating falls after a single foot slip.

Lifting Injuries and Falling Objects

Another set of office injuries that can occur due to lack of safety procedures are those caused by moving heavy objects. While it might not be listed in the job description, office workers are regularly expected to haul boxes of paperwork and office supplies or equipment like monitors or printers which can be surprisingly heavy. They may also be expected to retrieve these things from high shelves.

And because an office is not considered dangerous, employees are not provided with the right training or equipment to move heavy objects. There is no coaching on how to lift carefully, no harnesses provided for employees with weak backs or hernia risks, and often no step-ladders when things are retrieved from high shelves.

This is why office workers are often injured when lifting heavy boxes or objects falling as workers try to retrieve them from high shelves.

Ergonomic Injuries

Finally, we come to the type of injury most people expect from an office environment, though is still seriously underestimated. Ergonomic injuries are repetitive motion and musculoskeletal injuries that occur when your workstation is uncomfortable in a way that eventually damages your body.

Carpal tunnel is the only well-known variety but there are dozens of ways a bad chair, a desk that is the wrong height, or a badly designed keyboard can cause significant and long-term injury. Some workplaces exacerbate this problem by disallowing employees to get up and stretch, denying them breaks, and not allowing people to adjust or even bring in their own workstation supplies.

Part of the recent corporate cultural push for workplace wellness has been the acknowledgment that ergonomic injuries are serious and have ruined lives.

Other Office Injuries

While we have covered the top three most common (and underestimated) office injuries that can occur, there are a number of other risks as well. Running into things, or having furniture pushed into someone accounts for a reasonable number of office injuries. As does workplace violence caused by high stress and poor management. Office workers may burn themselves in the break room kitchen, get badly cut fixing computer hardware (computer components are surprisingly sharp) or a bad office chair may collapse and drop them painfully to the floor.

Don’t Let Your Workplace ‘Laugh Off’ Your Office Injury

One of the most common ways a bad workpalce tries to deny worker’s compensation is by downplaying the seriousness of your injury, or suggesting that you couldn’t possibly have been injured at work. Office workers have a very high risk of getting the ‘brush off’ when documenting a workplace injury and filing for worker’s compensation precisely because offices are considered an inherently safe place to work.

If you have been injured at work, even if you work in a “safe” office environment, don’t let your manager, HR, or anyone else discourage you from filing the worker’s compensation claim you deserve. This is why even office-based businesses are required to have workers compensation insurance and your injury is no less severe because it happened near carpets and computers.

Injured In Your Workplace? Contact Our Office

If your workplace is resisting your need to receive worker’s compensation for an office injury, don’t settle for less or allow them to bully you into downplaying your need. Consult with a worker’s compensation attorney to get a clear picture of how to file your claim and get around any resistance or ridicule you may be facing for becoming injured in an office environment. For more information about how to file a successful worker’s compensation claim in Minnesota or to consult on your office injury case, contact us today!