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How Does North Carolina Law Protect Workers from Repetitive Stress Injuries?

Repetitive Stress Injury Worker Protections in North Carolina

North Carolina has laws in place to protect workers from repetitive stress injuries (RSIs). These injuries can result from repetitive tasks, maintaining awkward positions, or exerting forceful movements over extended periods. Such injuries can affect various body parts, including the hands, wrists, arms, shoulders, neck, and back. North Carolina law recognizes the importance of preventing RSIs in the workplace and puts responsibilities on both the employer and employees to ensure a safe work environment.

Worker’s Compensation

Workers’ compensation laws provide a system of benefits created to compensate employees who suffer injuries or illnesses arising from and during their employment. Most employers in North Carolina are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. This coverage extends to nearly all employees, including full-time, part-time, seasonal, and some independent contractors. However, some exceptions exist, such as certain agricultural workers, domestic workers, and certain smaller businesses.

Filing a Workers’ Compensation Claim

In North Carolina, employees have 90 days to report a workplace injury or illness to their employer. However, the best practice is to report a work injury immediately. A workers’ compensation claim is then filed by the employer with their insurance carrier. If the claim is approved, benefits are provided accordingly. If the claim is disputed or denied, the injured employee has the right to appeal the decision.

Medical Benefits

Medical benefits include the costs associated with medical treatment, hospitalization, surgery, prescription medications, rehabilitation, and any other necessary medical care related to the workplace injury or illness.

Lost Wage Benefits

Workers’ compensation provides wage replacement benefits when an employee cannot work as a result of an injury or illness. Typically, this amounts to a percentage of the employee’s average weekly wage.

Permanent Disability Benefits

If an injury results in damage that affects the employee’s ability to work, they may receive worker’s compensation for a permanent partial or total disability.

Vocational Rehabilitation

In instances where an injury prevents an employee from being able to return to the work required by their previous job, workers’ compensation may cover the costs of vocational rehabilitation, including job training and placement services.

Death Benefits

Sometimes, a workplace injury or illness results in the death of a worker. The employee’s dependents may be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits that can provide compensation for funeral expenses and ongoing financial support.

Exclusive Remedy

Workers’ compensation laws in North Carolina operate under the principle of “exclusive remedy.” This means that in exchange for workers’ compensation benefits, employees generally cannot sue their employers for damages related to their workplace injuries, except in cases of gross negligence or intentional harm. This provision benefits both employers and employees. It limits the employer’s liability and provides compensation based on a predefined schedule. Exclusive remedy offers a quicker and more certain path to compensation for employees without the need to prove employer negligence.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Regulations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is vital in safeguarding workers’ health and safety in the United States. OSHA sets and enforces standards to ensure workplaces are free from hazards that could harm employees. These regulations include guidelines for ergonomics, which aim to reduce the risk of RSIs by optimizing how tasks are performed, such as proper workstation setup, tools, and equipment design, and training on safe work practices.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers in North Carolina must provide a safe workplace for their employees. This includes identifying and addressing potential hazards that could lead to RSIs. Employers must implement measures to mitigate these risks, such as providing ergonomic equipment, offering job rotation or breaks to reduce prolonged repetitive motions, and conducting regular ergonomic assessments.

Employee Rights to Report Hazards

North Carolina workers have the right to report unsafe working conditions to OSHA or the North Carolina Department of Labor. If employees believe their job duties are causing or exacerbating an RSI and their employer has not addressed the issue, they can file a complaint.

Training and Education

Education and training are essential components of injury prevention in the workplace. Employers may reduce the risk of accidents and injuries by providing employees with the knowledge to identify hazards, implement safety procedures, and use protective equipment effectively. This may include instruction on proper lifting techniques, ergonomic workstation setup, and recognizing the early signs and symptoms of RSIs.

Accommodation for Injured Workers

If an employee develops an RSI that affects their ability to perform their job duties, their employer may be required to provide reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This could include modifying job tasks, providing ergonomic equipment or assistive devices, or adjusting work schedules.

Seek Legal Assistance

A lawyer can provide invaluable assistance to injured workers seeking compensation. Lawyers offer guidance in navigating the complex legal processes of filing a workers’ compensation claim or pursuing a lawsuit. They evaluate the circumstances surrounding the injury, gather relevant evidence, and develop a compelling legal strategy to support the injured worker’s case. If a workers’ compensation claim is disputed or denied, a lawyer can represent the injured worker in legal proceedings using their knowledge and experience to pursue a favorable outcome. A lawyer can help injured workers navigate the challenges of RSI cases and obtain the compensation and benefits they deserve.

Injured by Repetitive Stress? Get Legal Help Now!

Are you suffering from the debilitating effects of repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) caused by your work? The Joel Bieber Firm specializes in advocating for individuals facing the challenges of RSIs. Our legal team is dedicated to fighting for your rights whether you’re seeking workers’ compensation benefits or exploring other avenues for relief, we’ll work tirelessly to achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Contact The Joel Bieber Firm at 866-891-7225 to schedule a free case evaluation.