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Work-related injuries caused by fast and repetitive motions

Warehouse workers must often perform tasks requiring quick and repeated motions. Some employees must also move fast enough to meet quotas. Repetitive stress caused by these performance expectations may result in serious medical conditions.

As reported by NPR, a California warehouse worker shared details of her 10-hour shift. A typical workday involved reaching, bending and twisting for long periods. Fast and repeated scanning, unwrapping and rewrapping actions helped move items through the warehouse. The employer’s production expectations called for work quotas as high as 200 items per hour.

Symptoms that may indicate serious medical problems

Feeling pain in the hands or wrists could indicate that an employee developed a repetitive stress injury. According to, symptoms may include numbness, tingling and stiffness of the joints or tendons.

Repeated motion injuries could begin as minor irritations. The strain, however, may gradually build until it causes nerve or muscle damage. Employees may at first ignore minor pain or swelling in their arms. Continuing those tasks, especially when they require quick repetitive motions, may result in severe harm.

Repetitive-strain injuries and workers’ compensation

Employees may not take enough time off to rest between their shifts. They may also experience overexertion or physical fatigue from working in unnatural positions. Returning to work after inadequate rest and performing further repetitive tasks may lead to musculoskeletal disorders.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that musculoskeletal disorders result in about 70 million doctor visits each year. The injured employees typically need treatment to manage back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome or arthritis.

After experiencing on-the-job repetitive motion injuries, individuals may file a claim for workers’ compensation. Benefits include payment for medical treatment, rehabilitation and prescriptions. Employees needing time off may also receive financial help until a physician certifies they could return to work.