At one time in our working career, many of us have worked in the food service industry. It’s practically a rite of passage as a teenager’s first job, pays tuition for numerous college students, and serves as a full-time career for many adults. In fact, approximately 9.7 million people in the United States work in the dining and beverage service industry. Though there are many advantages to these jobs, there are multiple drawbacks as well. Long hours, sore feet, and demanding customers are just a few of the downsides of the industry. A greater concern, however, is the number of safety and health hazards faced by food service workers.
Carpal tunnel syndrome, an injury which affects the wrist and hands, continues to be one of the most commonly reported work-related injuries. The carpal tunnel is a narrow area of the wrist through which the median nerve and tendons pass from the arm into the hand. Repetitive motion or injury can cause this area to swell, putting pressure on the nerve and tendons, and causing carpal tunnel syndrome. Syndrome sufferers experience symptoms in the affected hand and wrist ranging from varying degrees of pain, reduced range of motion, tingling and/or loss of feeling, and even a total or near-total inability to use the affected hand altogether. As nearly every job function requires the use of the hands, often in repetitive motions like keyboard or tool use, this injury is responsible for an exceptionally large number of injuries in the work place. With so many workers facing this potentially debilitating injury, it can be helpful to understand what treatment options are available.
Unfortunately for Illinois workers, state legislation recently signed into law by Governor Pat Quinn seriously reduces their rights and protections when injured on the job. House Bill 1698 was introduced under the guise of reforming the workers compensation system in Illinois. Ultimately, however, the focus of the bill revolves around saving the state and employers money at the expense of injured Illinois workers.