Is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome a Workplace Injury?

Carpal tunnel syndrome might be the best-known of all office health issues. So many people spend their days sitting at a computer and end up suffering from painful, frustrating aches and cramps. However, it is not always considered a work-related issue, so it is important to properly file your claim. After you file, your employer’s workers compensation claims managers are then tasked with accepting or declining the claim. They can either deny that the injury is work related or accept the claim as work-related. With some injuries the work-relatedness may be obvious, however with the symptoms of repetitive stress, causation and responsibility can be much more difficult.

Repetitive Stress Injuries Such As Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Repetitive stress injuries are not caused by a one time event but rather an accumulation of repetitive motions. Carpal tunnel happens when too much pressure is placed on the median nerve of the wrist. As this pressure continues over time, it can cause pain, tingling, and numbness. It can be treated by rest and anti-inflammatory medications, but sometimes surgery is necessary. Sometimes the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome are permanent, so employers are hesitant to accept those claims.

Is It Actually A Workplace Injury?

Unfortunately, there are competing medical studies about whether carpal tunnel syndrome is only a repetitive stress injury. In fact, there may be several potential causes of carpal tunnel syndrome. It is also related to hypothyroidism, diabetes, and rheumatoid arthritis. Work-relatedness and causation are determined on a case-by-case basis based upon the First Report of Injury, medical history, finding from the physical exam(s), other work and non-work activities and sometimes the review of other medical data in addition to the employee’s work tasks.

Having Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Prior To Employment

Any time that medical records are examined for a benefits claim, there should be a check of the employee’s history. If they have had carpal tunnel previously, that may hurt a claim. However, if it is shown that the job tasks aggravated a previous injury or condition, then it can still be successful. The employer will thoroughly investigate the history of the employee before agreeing to any claim of carpal tunnel being a new injury.

Providing Notice of the Injury

In most cases, a worker must provide notice in the form of a First Report of Injury to their employer regarding a work-related injury within a required period of time. However with repetitive stress injuries, this can be difficult since it is hard to know the actual date of injury. With these injuries, the last day the employee is at work can be considered the date of injury, since it is essentially the time the worker could no longer function at their job.


If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

Sleep Deficiency 101: Make Sure To Get Your Z’s

There are too many people out there who do not realize how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. Sixty years ago, the average american slept 7-8 hours a night. Now, 6 hours is the average. Sleep disorders are on the rise, which means workplace accidents related to insomnia and fatigue are on the rise as well. Shift work is also an issue, as those workers claim to be sleeping as little as 4 hours a day. Here is some more information about sleep and sleep deficiency that will inspire you to hit the hay a little earlier tonight.

Why Are We Sleeping Less?

There are a few reasons why we are sleeping less on average than in the past. Our work and home lives have drastically changed, making getting a quality sleep harder than ever. For one, Americans are working longer hours than in the past, which means there is less time outside of work to do the things we want and need to do, like spend time with family. Plus, we are constantly connected through our smartphones and devices, which means that some of us are never really “off” work, since we can be contacted at any time. This also means we are trying to fall asleep after essentially shining a beam of light into our faces right before bedtime.


First of all, not getting enough sleep can be dangerous. Workplace accidents increase when workers are not properly rested. Every year, people are killed because they are fatigued at work. Employers lose up to $92 billion every year in lost productivity from tired employees.

How To Get More Sleep

There are several things an employer and employee can do to try to get more sleep. Employers should create an environment that values and encourages rest, such as having a nap room and encouraging staff to unplug after work hours. Employees should make sure they are getting to bed at a consistent time each night, and to try to do something other than stare at their phone before trying to sleep.

If everyone were to get more sleep, workplaces would be much safer, and would probably provide employees with a less cranky environment, too.

If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

A Helpful Guide to Vaccines

Over the pest several decades, vaccines have dramatically decreased the number of cases of many diseases and saved millions of lives. Nowadays, many formerly deadly diseases have been almost completely eradicated. Getting vaccinated has become a vital part of maintaining your health. However, many adults do not get their booster shots after a certain age. Here are some reasons why you should vaccinate.

Protection Against Disease

Vaccines work by putting inactive viruses or bacteria into your immune system. That way your immune system can get used to them and be able to recognize them and fight them later. If it recognizes a threat it can defeat it because it will learn how to fight it.

Protect Others

Of course vaccines will help you protect yourself. However, getting vaccinated will also help protect others. There are people out there who, for medical reasons or otherwise, are not able to fight off diseases or get vaccinated. If you are not vaccinated, you may pass a disease onto those who are immunocompromised and they can become seriously ill.

No Missed Time

Even if you get through a disease without any permanent damage, you may miss some things that you did not want to. Missing work at an inopportune time can cause you stress and anxiety. Or, you may miss important family or social events because you are sick.

What Might You Need?

Depending on a variety of factors, such as your age and your history of vaccinations, you might need to get a booster of some vaccines. When you are 16, you should get a meningitis vaccine. You should also get MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella), pneumonia protection, and varicella boosters. Getting a tetanus shot should be done every 10 years. Check with your doctor to find out what you might need.

Flu Shot

It is always a good idea to get a flu shot every year. Each year the formula is changed to better fight against the strain of flu that is expected to be prominent that year. The best time to get it is before the flu season. If you are an older adult over the age of 65 you should get a pneumonia vaccine as well.

Getting vaccinated will help keep you, and your community, as healthy as possible. Consult your healthcare provider today.

If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

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5 Tips to Manage Stress at Work

You can’t escape stress. Whether you are at work, or planning a fun event, or raising kids, there are things that can cause anxiety in just about any situation. The only thing we can do is try to manage our stress and anxiety to prevent the situation from feeling worse. Here are some strategies to help with this.

Make sure to take care of yourself as best as possible. That means getting the proper amount of sleep on a nightly basis. Screens, such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops can affect your sleep as well. If you have trouble sleeping, then it might be best to consult a doctor. Also, eating healthier can help too. Being prepared with healthy snacks at work means you will be less likely to eat unhealthy junk food.

Take Breaks
Sitting at your desk for long periods of time can affect your posture and cause you pain and discomfort. It can also have a negative effect on your heart. Moving around can help with stress, so make sure to get up and walk around. You can also sit quietly and breathe for a while to help settle yourself down.

Go Easy On The Caffeine
Coffee is a big part of the day for a lot of people. It is a great reason to take a break, and it can give a boost in the morning when you might be a little groggy. However, too much caffeine can cause high blood pressure and other issues. High blood pressure can trigger symptoms of stress, and will also make it harder for you to manage stress.

Attitude Is Everything
Attitude can sometimes make all the difference in how you handle stress. Keeping positive, even when it seems like everything is going wrong can help you reduce stress. There can still be conflicts, but taking time to calm down and staying positive will help.

Take Some Time Away
It is vital to take some time away from your job every once in awhile to decompress and have a break. There are people who think taking too much time will make them seem lazy and not dedicated. However, the fact is that taking time off will allow you to be more productive when you return.

You will never be able to eliminate stress, but these tips can help you manage it.

If you are a Minnesota worker who has been injured on the job, do not hesitate to contact Minnesota Occupational Health online, by phone or by visiting one of our Twin Cities locations. Our staff of physicians, many of whom are board certified in occupational medicine, offer years of experience and understanding in addressing work injuries.

What Employers Need to Know About Worker Fatigue

Numerous circumstances including insufficient, interrupted or poor quality sleep over a period of time can result in worker fatigue. Fatigue is our body’s indicator that we need more rest. Long work hours and lengthy and fluctuating shifts can be very demanding on our bodies and minds. The body runs on a circadian rhythm sleep-wake cycle. Most people sleep best during the night. Changes in time zones, seasonal time changes and alternating work schedules can disturb the body’s natural cycle, resulting in fatigue and a lack of mental awareness.

Working prolonged shifts can also increase the effects of noise and other environmental challenges.

What Employee Population Does This Impact?

Erratic and prolonged shifts are widespread among transportation workers, first responders, emergency workers, military personnel, construction workers, hospitality workers and many others. Fatigue can cause exhaustion, irritability, reduced attentiveness, and more issues that can result in problems in the workplace. Numerous studies have shown that fatigue can be associated with health complications in certain people.

9 of the Most Common OSHA Fines

Many construction businesses make the choice to not have a dedicated safety initiative, since they feel that they are too small for one. However, no matter the size of the company, it can still be cited for safety violations, which can cost a pretty penny. Safety isn’t just about following the law, however. It is about protecting your employees. Here are the most common OSHA fines.


All too often, employees are thrown into a position without the proper training. This happens especially in smaller companies where they may not have the personnel dedicated to training. It’s vital to allot time for safety training, no matter how large your company is. Spending time on training can save lost man-hours later.

Hazard Communications

All hazardous materials on site should be listed and displayed in a prominent spot. As well, all employees should be fully trained in how to use these materials, and data sheets on the material safety should be available as well.

Head Safety

Hard hats must be worn on a job site, as objects can easily fall from heights and cause serious injury. Workers are at risk for walking into support beams or other hazards.

Improperly Designed Wiring

Wiring that is installed or designed incorrectly can be a major cause of accidents. Make sure that all wiring is up to code, and that the proper equipment is used for handling electrical wiring.

Ladder Safety

Ladders must be in good working order, and not bent or missing rungs. Work should not be done while on a ladder. It should only be used for getting to certain heights.

Aerial Lifts

Only those who are properly trained and qualified should be using aerial lifts. As well, all equipment should be properly inspected. Before lifting, everyone involved should meet and discuss a “lift plan” for what is going to happen during the lift.

Fall Protection

When working at heights, all equipment should be installed and used correctly, and only properly trained employees should be doing it. All employees should be trained around the dangers of working at heights.

Excavation Requirements

Before performing an excavation, you should have the right permits, have a plan for egress, and plan to inspect the excavation site daily.

Ongoing Training

There should be regular safety meetings to provide extra training as well as to discuss safety issues. This can involve discussing new equipment, hazardous materials, or any other safety-related topic that needs discussing.

Construction job sites are dangerous places to be, and there are many ways to be found in violation of the OSHA. Make sure your site is up to code.

A Guide to the OSHA’s Health and Safety Standards

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) has the authority, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, to regulate the health and safety of workplaces. This includes developing standards and rules, providing consultation and education to employers and the enforcement of those standards.

OSHA is responsible for occupational health and safety rules relate to injury prevention in many ways. Examples include personal protective equipment, machine safety guards, lock-out tag-out working, safety harnessing, etc. Other regulations seek to maintain safe and healthy work environments by the monitoring of factors such as noise, airborne particulate and chemical contact (silica, asbestos, solvents, pesticides, etc.). Virtually all industries are affected by OSHA rules and enforcement including the construction, manufacturing, maritime, and agriculture industries, among others.

OSHA standards are intended to help employers protect workers from a vast array of potential risks. Minnesota Occupational Health (MOH) develops, sponsors and hosts workshops on a variety of occupational health and safety topics.

Minnesota Occupational Health provides a wide array of preventative testing and medical surveillance to employers and their workers, in addition to non-life-threatening injury care for work-related injuries. Common utilized MOH services involve both baseline and periodic surveillance for respirator use, special color vision testing, audiograms for establishing baseline and comparative hearing thresholds, as well as blood levels of heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, arsenic and others. MOH’s Eagan clinic is NIOSH certified to perform Coal Worker X-ray surveillance.

In the event of a work injury, all three MOH clinics provide urgent care services including suturing of open wounds, sprains, strains, dislocations and fractures as well as chemical and thermal burns. Injured workers are treated promptly on a walk-in basis and employers receive prompt communications as to the expected course of treatment and any specific light duty restrictions that would help the workers remain safe and productive while recovering.

To learn more about these services please contact MOH at (651) 968-5300 or at

Stress Electrocardiogram (EKG) or CT HeartScan Tests for Firefighters

It is an unfortunate fact that heart disease causes a large number of firefighter deaths in the line of duty. It is important to identify firefighters who are at risk of experiencing a heart attack or stroke before they are exposed to the harsh and challenging conditions of firefighting.

At Minnesota Occupational Health, our physicians may recommend a resting electrocardiogram (EKG), an Exercise Stress test or a CT Heartscan for a firefighter on a pre-employment and/or a periodic follow-up basis. These tests along with identifying other cardiac risk factors such as cholesterol, smoking, fitness, age, heredity and others, can offer insights into cardiovascular health and health conditions that could lead to a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest.

An Exercise Stress Test may be able to identify:

  • The presence of significant coronary artery disease
  • Blood pressure response to exercise
  • Abnormalities with your heart’s electrical activity
  • Fitness level

A CT Heartscan uses computerized tomography to identify, measure and evaluate calcium within the coronary arteries that could lead to blockages.

Minnesota Occupational Health offers customized physical exams and medical surveillance tests and partners with key cardiology groups to perform and help evaluate heart disease in high risk professions such as firefighting.

What are the Responsibilities of a Medical Review Officer?

A Medical Review Officer (MRO) plays a pivotal role in helping employers ensure a safe workplace. An MRO is a licensed physician who reviews non-negative drug tests, determines if the presence of a tested substance is the result of legal usage and reports results directly to employers. An MRO may serve as an expert witness in contested cases as well. In addition, MRO’s provide expert guidance and training to collectors and often deliver Reasonable Suspicion Training for Supervisors to employers, a program MOH sponsors several times each year. MRO’s may also manage federal random drug testing consortiums to meet requirements established by Federal Motor Carriers, Pipeline, FAA, Federal Railroad, US Coast Guard, Federal Transportation agencies and others.

Medical Review Officer Services

MN Occupational Health provides both non-regulated MRO services (with Dr. Vijay Eyunni) and federally regulated MRO services including random testing programs through Advanced Drug Testing.

Who Benefits from OCC Med?

Today’s employers are charged with managing risk and related expenses while still fulfilling their commitments to their customers and employees. A growing number of employers realize the advantages of partnering with occupational medicine clinics. Minnesota Occupational Health provides the complete range of urgent care services including imaging, suturing, eye and burn care as well as a referral source to specialty care such as advanced imaging, physical therapy and surgery.

The following are some of the major benefits of OCC Med clinics to both employees and employers:

If you happen to be involved in an accident at the workplace, it could lead to acute pain and anxiety. In such a scenario, you should seek immediate medical attention. Minnesota Occupational Health’s clinics provide crucial services that are designed to handle and treat work related injuries using an ideal approach. MOH Providers also determine and communicate a plan with the best course of action in terms of your treatment in order to return an injured worker to good health as soon as possible.

Another major benefit of partnering with Minnesota Occupational Health is our ability to create and report the proper documentation to insurers, QRC’s and employers including periodic work status reports so every stakeholder, from the patient to the insurer understands the needs and accommodations that may be required until Maximim Medical Improvement (MMI) is attained.