For every person, the hands are an essential part of everyday life. From driving and cooking to shaking hands or opening doors, our hands let us perform everyday tasks with ease, and we may not appreciate how much more difficult life would be without them. For workers whose hands have been injured on the job, life holds a host of new difficulties and frustrations.
Unfortunately, hand injuries account for over 25% of workplace injuries, whether damage is immediate or develops over time. An injured hand can mean a loss of income and substantial medical bills. With a number of fine bones working together in an area that is placed near machinery when it is operated, it is easy to see how a hand injury could cause serious damage.
Common workplace hand injuries:
- Broken bones
- Carpal tunnel
- Crushed hand
- Reynaud's syndrome, damaged blood vessels prevent blood flow to the hand
- Tenosynovitis/tendinitis, overuse of hand causing inflamed tendons and muscles
Gloves are the most useful form of protection against hand injuries, and can be insulated or lined with protective materials to prevent damage from blades, adverse temperatures, or hazardous slippery surfaces. Training and enforcement of formalized procedures will help maximize the benefit of gloves, and employers should ensure that they are providing high quality gloves to protect their workers.
Occupational hand injuries can be caused in numerous ways, including:
- Catching hands or fingers in chains or gears
- Cutting mechanisms amputating all or part of a hand
- Improper insulation on electric tools causing burns or other hand injuries
- Jagged tools
- Long-term exposure to heat or cold
- Objects falling on hands
- Sharp edges on equipment
Most injuries can be reduced or prevented altogether with adequate gloves that are properly worn and maintained. Such a simple item could prevent a lifetime of difficulty with everyday tasks.