Every year, there are some 90,000 new cases of carpal tunnel syndrome across the U.S. Repetitive stress upon the wrist is what causes CTS, and it normally affects Wisconsin factory workers and those who work with computers. The injury can also arise among grocery workers, butchers and grinders.
However, not all carpal tunnel cases are work-related. A wrist injury could pinch the median nerve, leading to CTS. Playing certain sports or musical instruments can contribute to it, as will conditions like diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. Workers with CTS, if they intend to file a workers’ compensation claim, will need to show that specific work-related activities put stress on their wrist, independent of their lifestyle choices.
The easiest way to receive workers’ compensation benefits is for people to show that a specific injury that was incurred on the job led to the condition. Only a “preponderance of evidence” would be needed for this, and this a less demanding standard than that set for occupational illnesses.
As for employers in an industry that sees high rates of CTS, there are preventative measures they can take. It starts with an ergonomic assessment of the workplace and the replacement of any old equipment that would cause repetitive stress. Employers could give longer breaks to those engaged in repetitive tasks and set up employee exercise programs.
Not all injuries can be prevented, of course, but one of the things about workers’ compensation is that victims do not need to show that anyone was at fault for their injury or illness. The important thing with CTS, as mentioned above, is to prove that it was work-related and not due to a particular lifestyle choice. Victims may want some legal help as their employer may deny payment, forcing them to mount an appeal.