Repetitive stress worries for $11 an hour?

If white-collar workers suffer the most from repetitive stress injuries, then java-collar workers are surely suffering more.

Work-related injuries among baristas are on the rise, comprising mostly of elbow, wrist and joint problems from repetitive stress. Some have even coined the term “barista wrist” although baristas suffering from medial epicondylitis, or golfer’s elbow, is just as common.

Lifting milk cartons causes a strain on the elbow, while stamping espresso and turning a knob for 100 to 300 cups of coffee each day puts a strain on the wrist, experts say.

A $30-billion per year business in U.S.

Think such a problem doesn’t affect a lot of people? Think again. Specialty coffee is a $30 billion-per-year business in the U.S. alone, and an informal survey showed 55 percent of baristas report signs of repetitive stress injury.

Treatments can range from aspirin to physical therapy to surgery. One barista who sustained an elbow injury from her job got a piece of advice from her doctor – Quit.

Barista salaries in Colorado average $11 per hour.

Colorado workers comp claims

It’s important to follow the rules when you are injured on the job:

  • You must report your injury to your employer immediately
  • You must go to one of several medical providers identified by the company
  • You must notify the employer of the injury within four working days
  • Your employer must notify its insurer within 10 days of your written notification
  • If the claim is not denied, medical benefits are paid

If you lose more than three days (or shifts) off work, or you have a permanent injury, or if your employer disputes the claim:

  • The insurance company must file an Employers First Report of Injury
  • Within 20 days of your notification of the injury, the insurer must accept or deny liability
  • If the insurer denies benefits, then the state Division of Workers’ Compensation examines the case and helps make a determination.

Benefits cover two-thirds of your average weekly wage – or $7.26 an hour.

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