Show of Hands
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) indicates the most common occupational acute hand injuries are:
1) Laceration (or Cut) (63% of reported hand injuries): Lacerations cover the gamut from a small cut on the surface of the skin to so extensive enough it results in damage blood vessels, nerves, and tendons. Deeper cuts/lacerations may require stitches to close the wound. Cuts/ lacerations in our industry often come from hand tools, saws, grinders, knife blades, box cutters, sharp edged materials.
2) Crushing (13% of reported hand Injuries): A crushing injury occurs when the hand or finger(s) are caught between two objects. Minor injuries of this type can be bruising, lacerations and minor pain. Major crushing injuries entail severe soft tissue and bone damage. Healing time is dependent upon severity. While some injuries of this type can heal in months, some crushing injuries can take years. The latter injury is likely to be a life altering event with the injured finger never returning back to full capacity.
3) Amputation (8% of reported hand injuries): Amputation takes place when tissue is completely cut or torn away from the finger or hand. Amputations in construction are frequently from crushing blows or from hand and power tools. The National Center of Health Statistics report that there are 61,000 new finger amputations each year. Amputation of the fingers and hands are the most complicated to repair and heal. The hand has 27 bones, 34 muscles, 29 joints, and at least 123 named ligaments. The complexity to repair, reattach and recover from a finger amputation injury has many variables. Recovery time is extensive.
4) Punctures(6% of reported hand injuries): Punctures happen when an object pierces the skin. The wound can allow bacteria to enter the tissues and cause infection. The severity of such an injury can be as simple as a splinter in the finger to material creating a wound with damage to soft tissues, bones and nerves. The break in the skin, no matter the severity, creates an opportunity for infection and disease. Less severe punctures, when treated immediately, often need on-site first aid treatment only. However, if neglected, a puncture can result in an infection (such as celluloses) or disease (such as Tetanus) both of which can be deadly if left untreated.
5) Fractures (5% of reported hand injures): The bones in your fingers are called phalanges. Each finger has three phalanges, except the thumb, which has two. A broken, or fractured, finger occurs when one or more of these bones breaks. Fractures can also occur in your knuckles, which are the joints where your finger bones meet. Incidents that create fractures often times contribute to injuries to tendons, ligaments and other soft tissue. The severity of the fracture affects the healing time and the ability to completely heal.
Harvard School of Public Health conducted a study of occupational acute hand injuries and found the risk of a hand injury was significantly elevated when:
Equipment, tools or work pieces did not perform as expected,
When workers used a different work method
When workers performed an unusual task
Workers were distracted, rushed or felt ill