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Wounded Workers

One third of serious workplace injuries in the 1990s can be classified as musculoskeletal injuries (MSIs). Painful and potentially permanent, MSIs are often difficult to treat. Despite evidence that applied ergonomics and early intervention can protect workers from these injuries, the medical, social, legal, and political responses to MSIs have been ambiguous or even hostile. For example, even as the number of work-related MSIs increases, many provinces and states are revising workers' compensation regulations to exclude these injuries from coverage.MSIs of the hands, arms, neck, and shoulders strike women twice as often as men. Among the reasons for this difference: women work in jobs that tend to be tedious and repetitive (such as data input, electronics assembly, cashiering, sewing, and poultry, packing); most workstations are designed for a so-called 'average' male body. which forces women to reach awkwardly; and domestic duties usually preclude women from resting their hands after the paid work is done. Since women's jobs are usually perceived as 'light work, ' Workers' Compensation claims are often disputed by employers. Even when a claim is accepted, Workers' Compensation pays only a fraction of women's already low wages.A person who develops an MSI faces a labyrinth of bureaucracy, usually walking into one blank wall after another. Working Wounded maps out the current situation for patients, caregivers, and advocates in Canada and the United States. It reviews current therapies (mainstream and alternative), ergonomics, legislation, litigation, union-management relations, and the trend towards de-compensation. Most MSI books focus on medical self-help. Working Woundedexposes the hidden policy agendas that face MSI patients and their caregivers, and points to further resources for overcoming the barriers to recovery.
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