Have you gone up or down any stairs today?  Odds are if you haven’t that you soon will. Unless you live in a ranch house without a basement, most of us are exposed to stairs at some point during the day. This is especially true if you live in Chicago. You likely have to go up and down the stairs at home.  You go up and down stairs when taking the El. In many stores you have to climb stairs if you choose not to take the elevator. And at your workplace there are stairs.

Generally speaking, if you get injured at work doing something you and others normally do (such as walking), if you can’t show that something about the job increased your risk of an injury, you won’t get benefits. An example would be slipping on a wet floor.  That would be a case. But tripping over your own two feet while climbing stairs wouldn’t be a case.

Some jobs though involve climbing and other activities that clearly increase your risk of injury. One such job is that of a plumber, especially those working on commercial buildings.  Quite often they are working on unfinished buildings without elevators.  So to move tools and equipment from one floor to another, they have to carry it. It’s often really heavy which of course puts strain on the rest of your body.  Doing this is clearly part of their job duties so any injury that arises from doing that would be a work comp case.

That’s not to say that insurance companies will just roll over and pay you. In fact, in a recent case, a plumbing foreman said he had right knee stiffness and swelling from having to repeatedly climb stairs at a multi-story job site.  There was no elevator and he had to carry items like his tool bucket and a propane tank on multiple trips. He did have a history of knee problems from 14 years prior, but the injury he sustained at work as a plumber was a risk distinct to his job.  His doctor felt he needed a total knee replacement.

So even if you had a history of problems with your knee or whatever body part you hurt, if your climbing activity on the job makes your condition worse, you should get work comp benefits. In the recent case, an insurance company doctor tried to state that the climbing activity only caused a temporary aggravation.  That of course ignores that he hadn’t been treating with a doctor for years.  Most cases will work out this way as long as your doctor has a good reputation and can explain how your job made your condition worse.