The shoulder is known as the most mobile of any of the human joints but ironically, this flexibility is often the reason it is so easily injured. Any job that involves heavy lifting or repetitive movements puts the worker at risk of an injury to the shoulder that can lead to a workers compensation claim. Most workplace injuries to the shoulder are related to manual handling, lifting weights, and work-related incidents.

Shoulder injuries are problematic for workers, employers and WorkCover agencies due to the high level of rehabilitation needed if surgery is necessary.

How Work-Related Shoulder Injuries Occur

The anatomy of the human shoulder is a work of art, a strong and complex structure made up of three bones, the shoulder blade or scapula, the clavicle or collarbone and the upper arm or humerus. The bones are connected by tendons, muscles and ligaments that allow you to move your arms and shoulder joints.

Unfortunately, various work-related activities can weaken the shoulder leaving it open to wear and tear injuries. The following activities can cause a shoulder injury:

Pushing and lifting tasks

Shoulders are there for us when we need to lift heavy objects, but repeatedly lifting, pushing such items e.g. in a warehouse or on a building site often ends up damaging tendons and ligaments and causing severe tendonitis or rotator cuff tearing.

Awkward postures

Painters, roofers and glaziers as well as construction workers usually operate in tight spaces or reach overhead to carry out their tasks. Working day after day in these positions is no doubt uncomfortable, and can become painful and tiring with huge amounts of pressure placed on the shoulder system. Such working activities can result in chronic pain and a limited ability to carry out what were easy tasks before your injury.

Powered machinery

The regular use of powered machinery by road workers, transport workers, construction workers and those who work in factories, for instance leaves them open to vibration-induced shoulder injuries. The initial effects of vibration on the shoulders can be mild, but the pain often worsens over time and have a deleterious impact on shoulder bones, ligaments and tendons.

Repetitive motions

Common workplace injuries in an office are related to repetitive motions such as typing. Other tasks requiring repetitive movements include machining in a factory, picking and packing fruit, and working with animals, such as farriering and veterinary work. Unfortunately, they often cause inflammation of the shoulder joint or strain or sprains and on the soft tissue that holds the bones together. Catastrophic muscle and tendon rupture can occur in extreme cases.


The bulk of shoulder injuries occur when workers fall over and attempt to break their fall with their arms. Many serious shoulder injuries require surgery. Often insurers will decline a request for surgery or decline liability for your injury totally. This is where we step in and do what is necessary to make sure the insurer pays for your treatment, weeklies and any lump sum payouts.

Common Shoulder Injuries

Shoulder injuries can vary in complexity and severity, but here are some common work-related shoulder injuries that are often the subject of workers’ compensation claims:

Shoulder sprain

When ligaments are torn, it’s known as a shoulder sprain. Ligaments are connective tissue found in and around the shoulder joint responsible for keeping the shoulder bones in place.

Shoulder strain

When muscles and tendons are stretched or torn, it is known as a shoulder strain. Some common causes include poor typing posture, lifting heavy loads, or repetitive movements.

Torn rotator cuff

The rotator cuff aids the smooth movement of the arm and shoulder. Sudden trauma or overuse can lead to rotator cuff tears, which are painful and limiting.

Shoulder impingement

Inflammation of the tendons of the rotator cuff can lead to shoulder impingement syndrome, which results in pain and weakness as well as loss of shoulder movement.

Frozen shoulder

When the tissue within the shoulder joint thickens due to past injury and scarring, it is called frozen shoulder or adhesive capsulitis. The scar tissue makes the joint tighter, limiting movement.

Shoulder dislocation

When the humerus head (top of the upper arm bone) comes out of the glenoid space (shoulder socket), it results in a dislocated shoulder. Shoulder subluxation is a partial dislocation.

Fractured shoulder

The shoulder is made up of three bones, the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper arm bone). If one or more of these bones is fractured, this is a shoulder fracture.

Shoulder Instability

Untreated or repeated shoulder injury or trauma, or several instances of a rotator cuff tear can lead to a chronic condition involving shoulder instability.

When the shoulder joint is weakened it’s more prone to dislocate, especially when reaching overhead, which is necessary for some jobs such as warehousing, supermarket packing, loading trucks and others. If you have a rotator cuff tear or an injury to the shoulder joint, and depending on how the disablement affects you, treatment may be either physiotherapy or surgery.

Potential Workcover Compensation Claim

Depending on how severely you have injured your shoulder and the future impacts on your life and future well-being, you may be eligible to claim a benefit under NSW Workers Compensation laws.

Workcover Benefits in Compensation Claims

Whether you have torn your rotator cuff, as a result of sudden trauma, sprained or fractured your shoulder or another shoulder injury has presented over time or, your shoulder impairment can have a negative impact on your overall health. Rotator cuff injuries, for instance, can be difficult to treat and take a long time to heal and can affect your ability to work in your usual occupation or in any kind of work.

Shoulder Injury Warning Signs

Your body might give you early warning signs that your shoulder isn’t doing as well as it should. If you notice any the following signs, you should seek medical advice since early detection can nip many shoulder problems in the bud:

  • Pain in the neck, shoulder or arm while at rest and working
  • Unusual should stiffness
  • Normal shoulder positions feel difficult
  • Feelings of weakness and lack of shoulder and arm strength

Don’t shrug the pain or stiffness off and work through it because it may only aggravate the injury and lead to weakness and low grade pain that can become worse down the track. You could avert a severe shoulder injury if you seek medical attention early.

Speak to PK Simpson’s Expert Injury Lawyers Today

If you have sustained injuries to the shoulder at work and believe it will impact your ability to carry out your tasks now and into the future, you may be entitled to claim compensation and a permanent impairment benefit.

Our team at PK Simpson specialise in this area of the law and can advise you of your options. Our team of expert personal injury lawyers at PK Simpson know all there is to know about workers’ compensation, so we can give you solid advice. Contact us here today or call 1300 757 467.