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LABOR PAINS

Cumulative trauma disorders, also known as repeated trauma disorders or repetitive stress illnesses, have grown dramatically as a cause of workers' compensation claims and absenteeism in the past decade, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

These disorders, which range from carpal tunnel syndrome and tendinitis to lower-back strain, are "the biggest workplace health problem today," according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Alan Couturier of the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine says these injuries can be reduced by making work stations more flexible, allowing workers appropriately timed rest breaks and rotating tasks. Workers can help by getting proper nutrition, exercise and sleep.

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