We all know that the demands of our jobs can take a toll on our bodies, particularly for workers with a job that is physically demanding or involves performing repetitious tasks. How often do you come home after a long day at work with complaints of back, neck, knee or hand pain? For many workers, increased pain because of their job duties is accepted as just another day on the job.
Did you know that Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act covers injuries caused or aggravated by physically demanding or repetitive job activities? The law acknowledges that a worker can sustain an injury as a result of the cumulative effects of recurring trauma caused by work duties. An injury does not have to be pinpointed to a specific incident or event. Every day at work constitutes a separate trauma that contributes to the eventual work injury. This is what is known as a “repetitive” or a “cumulative” injury.
Examples of repetitive or cumulative injuries
include a delivery driver with increasing knee pain as a result of getting on and off their truck, or a package handler or factory worker with increasing low back pain as a result of loading and unloading items from a conveyor belt. Job duties are not required to be physically demanding to cause a cumulative injury. Even workers with office or administrative job duties are covered. For example, wrist pain developed from typing is a work injury.
What should I do if I think I have a work-related cumulative injury as a result of my job duties?
If you believe that you have sustained a work injury, you should immediately provide notice to your supervisor that you sustained a work-related injury. If you do not report the injury to your employer, you will not be able to file a claim for benefits.
Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act requires that you give notice within one hundred twenty (120) days of your date of injury. However, if you give notice within twenty-one (21) days from the date of injury, you are eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits beginning from the first day of injury. If you give notice after twenty-one (21) days but before one hundred twenty (120) days, you can only receive workers’ compensation benefits as of the date you gave notice of the work injury.
For this reason, it is it is important to give notice to your supervisor as soon as you think you have sustained a work injury.
I want to give notice for my cumulative work injury, but I don’t know the exact date I began to experience pain. What date should I use for my date of injury when I give notice?
Under Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act, when ongoing work activities have aggravated or caused a work injury, the last day of work is the date of injury. Think of it as each day in the workplace constitutes a separate trauma that contributes to the ultimate work injury. Therefore, the last day you worked will be your date of injury when you give notice to your supervisor.
What should I do if I previously reported my injury while I was still working and I just went out of work?
You should give notice of a “new” injury and use the last day you worked as your date of injury. Don’t worry if you reported an injury in the past. You are not prohibited from reporting a new injury. Just remember that each day worked is a new injury that contributed to your work injury.
If you have an injury that you think is caused or aggravated by your job activities, contact the certified Pennsylvania workers’ compensation attorneys at Willig, Williams & Davidson for a free cons