If an employee requests a reasonably priced piece of equipment to improve ergonomic performance on their job, would your company easily grant it? Here’s one of those stories that should encourage such ergonomic spending.
Angela Grott worked as a finance clerk at the Menard Correctional Center in Illinois. She often had to type on a keyboard while speaking on the phone, so she requested a headset.
Her request was denied, and she said she was forced to hold the phone receiver in the crook of her neck for hours while typing. The result: severe neck, shoulder and arm pain and headaches.
She sought medical help. Two days after she saw a surgeon, she underwent an operation. The surgeon said she had a pre-existing disc degeneration that was aggravated by holding the phone in an awkward manner.
Grott’s workers’ comp claim so far totals $128,424 for medical bills, according to an investigation by the Belleville News-Democrat.
She’s received $7,304 for 12 weeks of temporary disability pay. Even though Grott has been cleared to return to work, a permanent partial disability (PPD) claim is pending, which could range from $20,000 to $110,000.
The newspaper reports the type of headset Grott could have used on the job was for sale at a nearby store for $9.96.
Ergonomic workers’ comp claims = big bucks
The investigation by the News-Democrat shows since Jan. 1, 2008, about $7 million has been paid to Menard employees in PPD awards for repetitive trauma.
The attorney who is representing Grott has also been the attorney for the majority of 260 repetitive trauma claims filed by Menard employees. Most of the claims have been from guards, who said operating heavy cell lock mechanisms caused carpal tunnel syndrome or cubital tunnel of the elbow, which led to surgery.
From the better-late-than-never department, a spokeswoman for the prison system said it’s in the process of obtaining headsets for staff members who’ve requested them.
And one more quirk about this story: Grott’s case was heard before arbitrator John Dibble. The newspaper reports Dibble has been on paid administrative leave since February. He received a workers’ comp award of $48,790 based on a claim that last year he fell on stairs at a workers’ comp hearing site, resulting in delayed onset carpal tunnel syndrome. Records show there were no witnesses to the fall.
Does your company provide ergonomic work station modifications for workers who request them? Have you ever faced large workers’ comp bills because such ergonomic fixes weren’t made available? Let us know in the Comments Box below.