Work-Related Hand Injuries/Protection
September 25, 2018
Workers in various industries may suffer work-related hand injuries. According to a National Safety Council (NSC) chartbook, there were 119,810 hand injuries and 36,540 wrist injuries that required workers to take time off from work in 2014.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are 1,080,000 hand injury-related emergency room visits by workers in the United States each year.
Common Work-Related Hand Injuries
The following are some of the most common on-the-job injuries to hands that can occur:
Broken bones/fractures: There are 27 bones in the human hand. One or more of them may be fractured or broken in blunt force trauma and other types of workplace accidents.
Burns: Workers may suffer chemical, electrical or thermal burns if their skin is exposed to hazardous substances. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) reports that more than 5,000 workers are hospitalized each year for work-related burn injuries.
Carpal tunnel syndrome: This repetitive stress injury can affect various types of workers such as office workers, retail workers, assembly line workers and construction workers. Carpal tunnel syndrome can cause permanent damage to the hands if left untreated.
Cuts/lacerations/punctures: These types of injuries cost the construction industry approximately $382 million per year. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), they are second only to back strain and sprain injuries.
Degloving injuries: A degloving injury occurs when the skin is detached from the bones, muscle and tissue. This type of excruciating injury usually happens when the hand or arm becomes caught in machinery or is exposed to caustic chemicals.
Hand arm vibration syndrome: Otherwise known as HAVS, Jackhammer syndrome, or vibration white finger, this type of injury affects the circulatory and neural systems in the fingers. Workers who handle vibrating equipment such as chainsaws, hammer drills, and jackhammers are at risk of developing this condition.
Loss of finger: Workers may get their fingers caught in equipment or machinery. Sometimes, the resulting injury may require amputation.
Workers who have suffered an injury to one or both hands may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits to help with medical expenses. Wage loss benefits provide workers with a portion of their average weekly wages if the injury results in time out of work. In the case of permanent injury, workers may also be entitled to specific loss benefits.
The NSC and BLS report that the average hand injury costs over $6,000. There are approximately 110,000 lost time hand injuries each year, each costing nearly $7,500.
Wearing gloves reduces hand injury risk by 60 percent, according to studies. Employers should provide workers with the proper gloves and other personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to perform their jobs safely.
Recently, glove manufacturers have been implementing innovative technology in hand protection products. Some gloves claim to absorb energy and reduce hand impact by up to 50 percent of the force applied. Various materials, including thermoplastic rubbers, silicone rubbers, foams, and elastomers, are being used to provide workers with dorsal impact protection. New technology has also provided workers with cut protection in the form of chemical PPE that incorporates nitrile coating and cut-resistant liners.
The current chair of the American National Standards Institute/International Safety Equipment Association (ANSA/ISEA) Hand Protection Committee says that different tasks may require different gloves, and that a “one size fits all” policy is unsafe. Employers should also discourage workers from doubling up on gloves, and ensure that workers are comfortable in their gloves, so they are not tempted to remove them altogether.
Philadelphia Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. Seek Compensation for Workers with Hand Injuries
If you suffered a work-related hand injury, contact a skilled and experienced Philadelphia work injury lawyer at Larry Pitt & Associates, P.C. We represent workers in Berks County, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County and throughout Pennsylvania. For a free consultation, call us at 888-PITT-LAW or complete our online contact form.