Roughly 20% of all work-related injuries affect the hands of workers, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Even in this age of automation, some jobs require manual efforts and skills and are best done only by experienced hands. Most workers in the manufacturing industry depend mainly on their hands. Unfortunately, roughly 20% of all work-related injuries affect workers’ hands, according to a study conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
One of the most vulnerable parts of the human body is the hands. The reason is not that they are weak but instead because we use them so much. Often, we only interact with objects using our hands while the rest of our bodies stay away from danger. What happens as a result is workers often sustain hand injuries on the job. We detail the most common of them and give you some tips on injury management in the sections below.
No matter what kind of hand injury you sustain, you should never try to “tough it out” and keep working.
One of the most common types of damages is cuts. The reason is that many employees work with sharp tools, whether that be knives in a kitchen, machinery in a factory, or any other object that can break the skin. Generally, these injuries are surface level and do not take too long to heal. The only time they become severe is when the cut is so deep that it affects nerves and tendons.
While this injury does not cause structural damage, it can still be incredibly painful to employees. It is skin irritation, which is most frequently caused by exposure to harmful chemicals. The best way to avoid these issues is through wearing gloves and other protective gear.
Burns come in three variants: Thermal, electrical, and chemical. No matter which type you sustain, these damages can be debilitating. The reason is that recovery from severe burns is still difficult despite our advances in modern medicine.
Injuries that result in amputation are among the most severe injuries. Though most accidents do not lead to this point, you still may be in danger. The number one risk factor associated with these damages is working with heavy machinery, usually in the manufacturing industry. These machines have the power to take your hand off entirely, so they deserve extra caution.
Lastly, we have one of the most common hand injuries of all. It is carpal tunnel, which is caused by repetitive motion with the hand and wrist. While this injury is less severe than most others in this list, it still could lead to considerable discomfort and keep you away from work.
How to Manage Them
Though we know quite a bit about workplace injuries, we cannot give you specific medical advice. Instead, we recommend you report your injuries to your employer and see a company doctor. Once you do, that professional will advise you on how to manage your issue. The best advice we can give is to avoid being shy. Instead, be upfront with your employer and get the help you need immediately.
Preventing Hand Injuries in the Manufacturing Sector
Responding to the urgent need to reduce workplace accidents causing hand injuries, the regulators and decision-makers in the US manufacturing industry have demanded improved training facilities and better safety measures in the workplace. If the number of hand injuries can be reduced, it would create a win-win situation for both employers and workers.
Common Reasons for Hand Injuries in Manufacturing
As we’ve discussed, several factors may cause hand injuries at the workplace. However, some factors are more commonly responsible for such injuries than others in the manufacturing sector. For instance, hand injuries are often caused by improper use of hand tools, not wearing gloves, inattention while handling sharp objects, and not following safety rules and guidelines.
Employers must ensure that they provide all the required tools and training to help reduce hand injuries in the workplace. There are many instances where untrained workers have suffered severe hand injuries and even lost their hands due to small or careless mistakes that could have been avoided.
What the Statistics Say
The rate of occurrence of hand injuries in the workplace is quite alarming. Every year roughly around one million people fall prey to occupational hand injuries that force them to seek emergency medical help, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moreover, nearly 110,000 hand injuries requiring time away from work are reported annually.
Steps to Reduce the Risks
Both employers and employees can take several steps to reduce the risk of hand injuries at the workplace. Firstly, workers should make sure that they use safety gear to protect their hands and fingers against any hazards. According to a recent study conducted by the Liberty Mutual Research Institute, if used regularly, safety gloves can help lower the rate of work-related hand injuries by around 60%. It is, therefore, important for the workers to use safety equipment, including hand gloves, safety locks, and guards and shields.
Workers should also follow some basic safety rules, such as:
- Be alert and attentive while working
- Try to anticipate any hazards
- Attend training sessions
- Take all possible precautions at the workplace
On the other hand, employers need to get machines regularly checked by professionals and organize training sessions for their employees frequently.
Pursuing Compensation for a Workplace Injury
No matter what kind of hand injury you sustain, you should never try to “tough it out” and keep working. Instead, your best bet is to speak with an experienced St. Louis workers comp lawyer about your options. Your path forward will depend on the severity of your damages. A relatively harmless injury may not warrant a claim, while a more severe one will. No matter what, talking to a lawyer is the best way to understand how you should proceed.
Speak with an experienced attorney at the Law Office of James M. Hoffmann to learn more about your legal rights. We have over 30 years of experience and a proven track record of obtaining compensation for injured Missouri workers.
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