SPAIN: Carpal tunnel syndrome now recognized as an occupational disease for workers in the cleaning sector

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TMS PoignetWrist MSDs. One of the highest courts in Spain, the “Tribunal Supremo”, recently ruled in favour of a cleaning woman affected by carpal tunnel syndrome. She brought the case to the appeal court after the Mutua and the Social Security organization (INSS) refused to recognize her condition as an occupational disease. The court’s ruling will now serve as an established legal precedent.

The list of occupational diseases appears in Royal Decree 1299/2006. According to this document, carpal tunnel syndrome due to compression of the median nerve is recognized as an occupational disease for “work in which the person presses for a long time repeatedly on the fibrous sling, either directly or indirectly, causing nervous damage due to compression; extreme hyperflexion or hyperextension movements; work requiring repeated or steady movements of hyperextension or hyperflexion of the wrist, or gripping with the hand, such as those of launderers and fabric and plastic cutters or similar work; assembly work (electronic, mechanical), work in the textile industry, slaughterhouses (butchers, slaughterers), the hotel industry (waiters, cooks), welding, joinery, polishing and painting”.

The Mutua and the INSS had rejected the cleaning woman’s claim for recognition. They considered that since cleaning activities were not mentioned explicitly, they were not covered by the Royal Decree. The “Tribunal supremo” established, by its ruling, that the award of the classification as an occupational disease should not be based on the occupation of the person affected, but rather on the fact that the work performed by the worker could result in damage associated with the occupational disease in question.

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