Work-Related Hand Injuries
The hand is one of the most flexible and useful parts of our body that assist us in most workplace activities. Hand injuries can range from minor cuts or burns to severe injuries.
Hand Injuries in Industries
Hand trauma at industries is often caused by machine or power tools due to improper handling, improper safety guards and operating the machine under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The injuries are often severe and may include burns, damage to bones, tendons, soft tissue or nerves of the hand.
Types of Work-Related Hand Injuries
The types of work-related hand injuries include:
- Laceration and punctures
- Overuse injuries
- Abrasions and burns
- Trips and falls injuries (fractures)
- Avulsion injuries (detachment of tendon or ligament)
- Compression of nerves
Symptoms of Work-Related Hand Injuries
The symptoms depend on the underlying cause and may include:
- Inflammation and discolouration
- Local warmth
- Decreased range of motion
Causes of Work-Related Hand Injuries
The most common causes include:
- Negligence (distraction or not paying attention)
- Not wearing protective gloves
- Improper machinery
- Overuse or strain
What Happens if Hand Injuries are Left Untreated?
Untreated hand injuries may result in:
- Stiffness of the hand
- Weakened muscles
- Injury to the surrounding tissue
- Progressive cartilage degeneration and arthritis
- Permanent deformity (severe cases)
Diagnosis of Work-Related Hand Injuries
Your doctor physically examines your hand and wrist by performing specific movements to assess the problem. The exact location and severity of the pain are essential to identify the type and extent of the damage. Your doctor takes a medical history and orders imaging tests such as X-ray, CT-scan or MRI. Special tests may be ordered to assess joint instability.
Treatment of Work-Related Hand Injuries
Treatment depends on the type of injury caused. Your doctor first recommends non-surgical methods that may include:
- Pain: Prescription pain medicines or NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) are used to manage pain.
- Infection: Antibiotics or antifungals are prescribed to treat infections.
- Burns: Water is used to cool the heat burns followed by application of topical ointments or dressing.
- Wounds: Pressure is applied to stop bleeding. Antiseptic solution is used to clean the wound and then cover it with a bandage.
- Fractures: Ice packs are applied followed by immobilisation of the hand. Splints, casts or braces made up of fibreglass or Plaster of Paris material are used to immobilise the bones until they heal.
Surgery is recommended if you do not respond to non-surgical methods.
Prevention of Work-Related Hand Injuries
It is important for every employer to take proper preventive precautions including regular risk assessments, proper training and implementation of safety measures in industries. Stretching exercises may help prevent strain injuries.