Working from home is the new norm for a lot of people in North Carolina. While this is certainly a big change, you might have noticed several benefits. Maybe you no longer spend hours on end commuting every day, or you are saving money by eating at home instead of grabbing lunch out. But maybe you are starting to notice a few downsides too, like neck pain or other work related injuries.
You do not have to physically be in an office or other workspace to suffer a work injury. Indeed, a work injury can happen if you are on the road, a job site or other location while carrying out your work duties. An injury can also happen while sitting at your laptop.
What happened to the ergonomic office?
Many employers have prioritized creating a safer environment for office workers, who are particularly prone to neck, shoulder, back and wrist pain. This means that before you started working from home, you might have had access to an ergonomic keyboard, mouse and chair. Even if you did not have items with ergonomic designs, having a workspace specifically set up for office work probably helped you minimize the potential for pain and injury.
Perhaps you had to trade in those regular office comforts for a laptop at the kitchen counter or on the couch. This probably seemed like a good solution to what seemed like a temporary problem. Your pain tells a different story now that you have spent months hunched over a laptop.
Chiropractors are worried
In a survey of 213 chiropractors, the American Chiropractic Association found that 92% said they had seen more patients for work from home injuries. These respondents mostly cited pain related to musculoskeletal issues, such as back and neck pain. Many of these injuries stem from laptop use.
Laptops are not ideal for long time use. If it sits in your lap, then you have to look down at the screen, putting dangerous pressure on your spine. If you situate the laptop so that the screen is at eye level, you will have to raise your arms and hands up to type. This can hurt your wrists, arms and shoulders.
What about walking?
Sitting in a car for a long commute might not be great, but you probably still spent part of your day moving around at the office. Whether for walking down the hall for a meeting, popping out for a coffee or simply walking over to talk to a co-worker, there was no getting around movement. Now that so many people are working from home, daily movement is at a minimum, and you may find that you are sitting more than ever. This is also bad for spinal health.
Many office workers believe that they are not really at risk for work-related injuries. After all, they are not routinely exposed to toxic chemicals or made to use heavy machinery. Now that you are in this position though, you must understand what benefits you qualify for and how they can help. Do not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney who can carefully guide you through North Carolina’s workers’ compensation system if you suffer an injury due to work-related duties.