The U.S. Bureau of Labor reports that hand injuries account for a million workers going to the ER each year. A hand consists of 27 bones and several ligaments that commonly take weeks to heal if injured. A worker in North Carolina may experience several types of hand injuries.
Cuts, lacerations and punctures
Lacerations and cuts make up 63% of hand injuries in the workplace. A cut commonly causes separation of skin tissues while a laceration causes a deeper, jagged wound. Cuts and lacerations commonly heal on their own with basic treatment, but a damaged tendon may require serious medical treatment.
A puncture commonly occurs when a worker handles a sharp object, making a narrow wound on the skin. Nails, machinery parts, needles and knives commonly cause punctures.
Burns and skin irritation
The most common burns in the workplace include chemical, electrical and thermal. Electrical burns occur when a current moves through the body and meets the body’s resistance. Thermal burns occur from hot liquids, flames, steam or very hot surfaces, and hazardous substances often cause chemicals burns.
A hazardous substance or even a detergent can cause mild or severe skin irritation. Symptoms are commonly mild, but they may become serious enough to prevent an employee from working.
Repetitive stress injury and fractures
Fractures cause bones to break and commonly occur from the weight of moving heavy equipment or from falling. Some industries are more prone to hand fractures, such as transportation, maintenance and construction.
Constant repetitive motion of the hands stresses the tendons and may cause repetitive stress injuries. Carpel tunnel syndrome is the most common, affecting the nerve passage in the wrist called the carpal tunnel because of the strain on muscles. Some symptoms could include pain, tingling, weakness or numbness in the hand.
Workers’ comp benefits provide injured employees with a portion of their income until they heal. However, not all cases qualify for workers’ comp, so an injured worker should see an attorney.