Pennsylvania Workers Comp and Carpal Tunnel Claims

carpal2Carpal Tunnel syndrome can be a covered work injury in Pennsylvania workers compensation.   Given the latest stories we have posted here, with Procter & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific, and other large warehousing and manufacturing operations popping up all over Franklin, Cumberland, and Adams Counties, I felt it was time to address a common injury like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Carpal tunnel syndrome is not an injury one would expect when thinking about what actually would be a workplace injury.  Those are saved for more common type injuries, such as lifting injuries to the back, neck, and shoulder, pushing and pulling injuries, fork lift accidents, slip and falls, and etc.  Usually, most work injuries have a ‘specific event’ injury, such as lifting a box.  Those are your injuries most of though if when thinking about a workplace injury.

However, repetitive injuries are compensable under the Workers Compensation Act.  These type of injuries usually do not include a specific lifting type event, but are injuries in which symptoms appear over time and continue to worsen.  Carpal tunnel syndrome is one of the more common repetitive injuries.  Carpal tunnel syndrome occurs when the median nerve.  This nerve runs from the forearm into the palm of the hand.  Carpal tunnel symptoms occur when this median nerve becomes compressed or squeezed.  Symptoms that rise from carpal can include pain in the wrist and hand, numbness and tingling in the wrist and hand, weakness, burning sensations, and other symptoms.

Carpal tunnel can be caused by repetitive activity.  Workers who do the same activities over and over are more susceptible to developing carpal tunnel syndrome.  Specifically, we see high levels in assembly and warehousing jobs because of the over and over, repetitive type activity.  Given the amount of warehouses and distribution centers in Greencastle, Chambersburg, Shippensburg, and Carlisle,  we are seeing an increase in these type of repetitive injuries, not just carpal tunnel, but in the shoulders as well.   Here is a chart that shows high occupational rates.

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Frequently when an employee complains of carpal tunnel symptoms, employers initially attempt to just ignore the employee.  They will often try and blame it on other external factors, such as smoking, thyroid conditions, and activities outside work, like bowling, etc . . .  Often carpal tunnel alleged injuries are denied by the employer and its insurance carrier.  If you are experiencing these symptoms and you believe your work related activities are the cause for your symptoms, contact Mooney & Associates right away.  Certainly if your employer is denying the injury or giving you a ‘hard time’, you need to call an attorney.   Many factors go into proving carpal tunnel cases, such as the high rate of repetitiveness of the job, length of employment,  length of hours worked, combined lifting activities, and more.  if you believe you are suffering from a work-related repetitive injury, first thing to do is tell your employer.  Next, seek medical treatment and explain to your doctor your job duties and activities and the symptoms you are experiencing.  Finally, call Mooney & Associates for a FREE consultation at 1-877-632-4656.