Certain industries present greater workplace dangers than others. Most people think of construction as a dangerous industry, and it is, but it is not the only place where workers can get injured on the job. Hand injuries can happen at any job. Whether you are typing all day or working with heavy equipment, your hands are vulnerable to injury.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, hand and finger lacerations make up 23 percent of workplace injuries. When you think of workplace injuries, hands are not usually seen as life-threatening, but they can be debilitating, both physically and financially. The average hand injury requires over $20,000 in medical bills, pain and suffering, and financial losses. Even these seemingly minor injuries can result in serious financial hardship.
The most common types of workplace hand injuries include:
- Cuts and lacerations: Many people cut their hands and do not need medical attention or suffer ongoing pain. Some cuts, however, run deep and can cause nerve damage, resulting in chronic pain. In the most severe cases, surgery is often required to alleviate the pain and allow the person to have full control of their hand again.
- Broken bones: Your hands are relatively small but still contain many bones. If any of those bones break, you may not be able to use your hand until the fracture heals. In some cases, surgery is required to ensure the bone heals correctly.
- Nerve damage: Nerve damage frequently coincides with a cut or laceration but can also occur when a bone breaks or if the hand is crushed. Surgery is usually required to repair nerve damage, but it is not always successful. These injuries may never heal, leaving workers with chronic hand pain.
- Tendonitis: When the tendon is inflamed or irritated, tendonitis can result. Often caused by repetitive motion, this is a painful and debilitating injury. You may find relief by exercising the hand and refraining from the specific repetitive motion that caused the injury.
- Extensor tendon injuries: Extensor tendons allow you to move your fingers and thumbs. When they are injured, your ability to move your fingers and thumbs is greatly reduced and sometimes eliminated entirely. Surgery can be an option, but it is not always successful.
- Flexor tendon injuries: Flexor tendons help you hold items. When these tendons get injured, you cannot hold on to anything, making it difficult to do any job.
- Trigger finger: When you cannot straighten your fingers, tendons may be getting caught or trapped, making it difficult or impossible to straighten your fingers. Exercise and surgery are both options for this injury.
- Amputation: In the worst situation, usually when a hand is crushed, it may need to be amputated. This affects a worker’s ability to return to work, at least in the same capacity, severely impacting their ability to support themselves.
Hands are used in nearly every job. Especially in jobs which workers use heavy machinery, hand injuries can be catastrophic. Some of the most common industries that see hand injuries include:
- Food service.
What Causes Hand Injuries in the Workplace?
There are many hazards in the workplace which could result in hand injuries, including the following:
- Pinch points: Pinch points are the small areas between two moving parts of a machine. Hands can easily slide into these areas, get caught, and be severely injured.
- Rotating parts: Machinery commonly uses fast rotating parts. Workers’ hands often come in proximity to these parts. If a worker is not careful or is wearing loose fitting gloves, their hand could get sucked into these rotating parts, causing catastrophic injuries.
- Automation machines: Many machines today are automated, starting and stopping on their own or through a computer program. Because humans are not operating these machines, they could start without warning and injure a worker.
- Hot and cold areas: Many machines have very hot areas to them. If a worker touches a hot area without a glove, it could cause a serious hand injury. The same is true of cold areas, especially in refrigeration. Extremely cold surfaces can cause just as much hand damage as hot areas.
- Getting entangled: Loose clothing and jewelry can easily get entangled in a fast moving machine. This can cause hands to get trapped and caught in the machine, resulting in serious injuries.
How Is a Hand Injury Treated?
The treatment for your hand injury will greatly depend on the type of injury you have suffered. Whether you need a few days off to let your hand heal or you need invasive surgery and months of recovery, it will all depend on your injury.
The more serious your injury, the more likely you are to need surgery and then rehabilitation. Sometimes instead of surgery, workers can get treatment through rehabilitation and pain management. You may be prescribed medication to help alleviate the pain and be given exercises to do at home.
Even with all of these treatment options, you may still be unable to return to the same job and earn the same income. This is important because the longer you are out of work and dealing with your hand injury, the more difficult it becomes to return to your previous way of life.
Workers’ Compensation for Hand Injuries
With few exceptions, every employer in the U.S. is required to carry Workers’ Compensation insurance. This insurance covers employees who get injured on the job. It only covers a portion of your lost income and medical bills, but it is no-fault insurance, which means negligence does not have to play a role in the accident in order for you to be eligible to collect benefits.
To get Workers’ Compensation benefits, you will need to prove that your injury occurred while you were working. That should be easy to do if you have witnesses to your accident and a report from your supervisor. This is why it is so crucial that you report your injury right away so your company can document it and let their Workers’ Compensation insurance provider know.
While you should attempt to get Workers’ Compensation benefits, you may face roadblocks. Many injured workers are surprised to learn that their Workers’ Compensation claim has been denied. This may have happened because they did not provide all of the required documentation verifying their injury occurred at work. It could also have happened because they did not file a notice of their claim in the short window provided in the Workers’ Compensation policy documents.
Even if you have received a claim denial, it is not the end of the road. You can appeal. Whether you have already received a denial of your claim or you are just getting started on your initial Workers’ Compensation claim, you may want to speak with a lawyer to help you through the complex and contentious process.
Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Help You Get the Benefits You Need
Suffering a workplace hand injury can be devastating. If you need help with your claim, speak with one of our Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation lawyers at DiTomaso Law. Call us at 856-414-0010 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout South Jersey, including Mt. Holly, Camden County, and Vineland.