Working as a web developer is challenging. Trying to interpret client requests, making design adjustments, and negotiating contracts are just a few of those challenges.
One of the most overlooked challenges, however, is staying healthy. Not only does sitting down all day make it hard to maintain an exercise routine, but you’re prone to back, neck, and repetitive motion injuries as well. These injuries often start small and grow in a short period of time. If left untreated, they can cause permanent damage that will make it difficult for you to continue your work.
All workplace injuries should be reported immediately
If you work for a design agency as a W2 employee, there should be a policy in place detailing the procedure for reporting injuries. You should report every injury, including paper cuts, bruises, and burns. This will protect you in the future, should you need to file a worker’s compensation claim.
Ignoring your injuries, or not reporting them, will make it more difficult for you to prove your case. For example, if you’re starting to show signs of carpal tunnel from typing all day long, it should be reported to your employer immediately. You may even want to visit a doctor to discuss treatment options before it gets worse. A paper cut may seem unworthy to report, but if it gets infected, it could become life-threatening.
Reporting every injury (no matter how minor) and seeing a doctor establishes a legitimate history of the injury. If a cut leads to sepsis and you can’t prove you sustained it on the job, you could end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills and no source of income. Or, if you get fired and then file a claim for severe carpal tunnel syndrome despite never seeing a doctor, your claim could look like retaliation.
Minor injuries are covered by worker’s compensation
When you’re injured on the job, you’re entitled to worker’s compensation. The compensation you receive should cover your medical expenses, your salary, and depending on your injuries it might provide you with disability benefits.
The law for compensation varies between states, but they’re often similar. For example, in North Carolina you have two years to file a claim and the disability benefits you receive will be equal to two-thirds of your gross average weekly wage (up to a certain amount). You can receive disability benefits for up to 500 weeks, as long as you are legitimately unable to work.
You don’t need to have fallen off a ladder or severed a finger to qualify. Worker’s compensation applies to injuries sustained while engaged in work-related activities, even if you don’t lose a day of work due to the injury.
Worker’s compensation insurance is a policy purchased by your employer
Some people hesitate to file a worker’s compensation claim because they think it’s going to take money out of their employer’s pocket. In reality, worker’s compensation is an insurance policy, just like a car insurance policy. Your employer pays the premium, and when a claim is filed, the insurance company pays for the compensation. However, if you hire a lawyer to recover adequate compensation, the settlement will mostly come directly out of your employer’s pocket.
Workplace injuries are expensive, even for techies
As a techie, you may not be at risk for broken bones and severed fingers like some occupations, but the repetitive motion injuries you are at risk for aren’t fun or cheap. In 2015, repetitive motion injuries were listed in Insurance Journal as one of the 10 most common workers’ compensation injuries, costing employers $1.8 billion each year.
Carpal tunnel, one of the most common repetitive motion injuries sustained by office workers, can cost close to $30,000 once you’ve added in post-operative therapies. The surgery itself is relatively cheap as an outpatient at around $2,500. If you choose to stay in the hospital for the surgery, that number will easily double (plus).
Not reporting the beginning stages of carpal tunnel, or waiting until you leave your job to file a claim, can make it harder for you to receive fair compensation. If you end up injured on the job and you’re not sure what to do, consult with a lawyer to understand your rights. If you don’t feel comfortable filing a report today, at least see a doctor to get your injury on the record.