Repetitive Use Work Injuries

Does your employment require repetitive lifting, bending, stooping, or twisting? Do these repetitive tasks from your work cause pain and result in an injury over time? If you answered yes to the previous two questions, you may have suffered what is known in the world of Workers’ Compensation as a Gillette injury, and if well documented, will be compensable.

Back in the 1960’s there was a groundbreaking Minnesota Supreme Court case by the name of Gillette v. Harold, Inc., that impacted injured workers all over the state of Minnesota. The case involved a sales clerk at a department store who spent most of her workday on her feet. As she continued her employment she developed pain in her right big toe. When she went to the doctor, the doctor stated that the prolonged standing and walking from her job as a sales clerk was the reason for increased pain in her right big toe. The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the employee’s job duties were a substantial contributing factor in causing the injury to her right big toe and concluded a work injury had occurred.

The ruling established that a work injury wasn’t relegated solely to one distinct event such as falling off a ladder and breaking your leg. As a result of the ruling in the Gillette case, workers compensation is now allowable for work injuries that occur as a result of repetitive or cumulative “minor trauma” cause by performing ordinary job duties.

One of the most common forms of Gillette injuries is a back injury. Laborers with physically demanding work such as heavy lifting or repetitive bending and twisting, may notice that their back is sore after a long day of work. As they continue to perform their work duties, what was once just a sore back worsens to the point where they can no longer perform their job duties. In that instance, there wasn’t a specific injury that produced the injury, but the cumulative “minor trauma” over time produced a work injury. Another very common form of Gillette injury is carpal tunnel syndrome. Machinists and secretaries are common professions that may develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Both jobs require constant manipulation of their hands and fingers.

Another important aspect of Gillette injuries is that they are also compensable if they aggravate or accelerate a preexisting condition. An employer takes an employee as they are and a Gillette injury has occurred if a previous medical condition has been worsened by the work duties.

If you feel you have suffered a Gillette injury, it is very important that you report it to your employer by filling out a first report of injury. On the injury report it is crucial to be very specific as to your job duties that brought about the injury.  If you see a doctor in relation to your Gillette injury, it is also very important that you thoroughly explain your job duties and corresponding symptoms. Proving up a successful Gillette injury requires medical evidence that is sufficient to draw the connection between an employee’s work duties and the corresponding injury.

Please send any request for topic suggestions to  Although we cannot give you legal advice through the column, we can provide some general information that may be helpful for you to know.  Our purpose is to educate and we hope that you can take something new away from this column each time you read it.