Recently I attended a training seminar where I stood at a table all day and answered questions. Mind you that I’m in pretty good shape and work out every day. This type of activity would be considered sedentary and of course pales in comparison to the hard work done by most of my callers and clients.
But at the end of seven straight hours of standing, my back was really tight and sore. It wasn’t bad enough to need to see a doctor, but I did pop some Advil for a few days in a row and took it a little bit easier.
The law used to be that the act of standing at work could not injure you because that’s what the general public does all day. I have no idea why standing caused me pain when I can run for an hour straight without problem, but it did.
Even under the old line of thinking, there were some exceptions. For example, if you had to wear steel toed boots or other special footwear and got plantar fasciitis, you’d likely win your case. You’d also win if you have to do a lot of walking on the job. In fact if someone calls me and tells me that they are on their feet all day, I tell them to get a pedometer or FitBit which can track their steps. This can be really handy in showing the true nature of their job duties as can other technology.
About 10 years ago, a case came out called Delores McGee v. Illinois State University. In this case, the injured worker’s job required her to stand for 6½ hours a day, five days a week, and she had done so for over two decades. She testified that she stood on concrete flooring. She testified that she also stood on her toes for a couple of hours each time she had to slice meat. The Commission noted that the Petitioner was standing and walking 87% of the time during her work day. Standing and walking for 87% of the time is a greater risk than that to which the public is exposed. The general public does not stand or walk for 87% of its work day, five days a week. Moreover, the general public does not risk having to stand on tiptoes for two hours at a time.
Delores likely won her case because of the concrete and tippy toes, but the time on her feet was really important too. There was another case that influences the law called Kimberly Wible v. Meijer. This case addressed the issue of a Petitioner claiming repetitive trauma to the feet as a result of prolonged work-related weight bearing. In this case, the Petitioner worked as a cashier and then transferred to the cash office. Both positions required standing at least 90% of each 8 hour work day. The treating physician opined that the cause of the bilateral feet symptoms was her standing at work. The Commission found that the Petitioner’s repetitive trauma injuries to her feet due to prolonged standing and walking were compensable.
While Wible addresses repetitive trauma, the Commission also noted that in the past, it has recognized that if an employee is subjected to a degree of walking and standing that is greater than that to which the general public is subjected, that activity constitutes an increased risk of injury and is compensable. It’s contrasted by a different case called Doggett v. IDOC which went in favor of the employer because the worker only had to stand 20% of the day. Again, this is where technology can help you.
So if you are standing for one day like me and hurt your back, it’s likely not a case. But if you do it day after day and hurt your back, foot, knees, etc., we’d take your case on and fight for you because the law is on your side.