The numbers are in, and they’re not encouraging. On November 7, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its 2018 report on non-fatal workplace injuries.
The data suggested over 2 million of these injuries and illnesses occurred the previous year. That hardly changed since 2017. Worse, injuries in retail trade increased within the same period. It rose from 3.3 to 3.5 cases for every 100 workers.
Other pieces of information from the report include:
- About 37% of illnesses or injuries requiring days away from work (DAFW) resulted in a visit to a medical facility.
- Nearly 39,000 DAFW cases needed hospitalization.
- Between 2017 and 2018, more injuries occurred in agriculture and forestry. The numbers decreased for mining, construction, and manufacturing industries.
How About Injuries?
The report further highlighted the importance of proper equipment and gear, such as leather welding gloves. The most common causes of injuries and illnesses are still:
- Sprains, strains, and tears
- Bruises and contusions
- Cuts, punctures, and lacerations
- Soreness and pain
- Falls, slips, and trips
- Contact with objects and equipment
- Overexertion or bodily reaction
Most of the injuries still involved strains, sprains, and tears, although the numbers went down. From 31.5% in 2017, it decreased to 30.7% in 2018. The same trend happened for overexertion, which can lead to musculoskeletal disorders. It declined from 30% in 2017 to 28.2% in 2018.
Lacerations, punctures, and cuts were a different story. These types of injuries soared significantly in the private industry. In 2017, it accounted for only 7.4% of injuries and illnesses. By the following year, the incidence rate was already 9.2%.
The Complications of Hand Injuries
The growing percentage of injuries that involve the limbs such as hands is alarming. The majority of the jobs demand the hands to be in good condition. Think about stock clerks, drivers, warehouse workers, food service employees, and machine operators.
The complications of hand injuries are also hard to ignore. One example is an infection. Infection occurs when the injury leaves an open wound, such as a laceration or puncture. It allows harmful bacteria to get in.
Many healthy people can survive infections without severe complications. Some groups, though, are high-risk. These include diabetics and older populations.
More than 30 million Americans have diabetes, while around 8 million people over the age of 65 are still in the workplace. These individuals usually have a poor, weak, or compromised immune system.
Diabetics, for one, are prone to slow wound healing. Delayed recovery is also high among older workers, according to a 2016 study in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies.
Depending on the hand injury, the person might need surgery. This procedure, while life-saving, can also have complications:
- Blood clots
- Skin discoloration
- Allergic reaction to anesthesia
Scarring, for example, can be detrimental to the employee. It can impact the movement of their hands or limit their range. No company can guarantee an injury-free workplace. Accidents can happen anytime.
Many of these injuries, though, especially those involving the hands are preventable. It starts with clear workplace safety policies, sufficient high-quality gear and equipment, and continuous training and education.