If you work on an assembly line in an Illinois factory, your hands are likely your most valuable tools. Will you be able to do your job of you lose the use of one of your hands? Thousands of workers visit emergency rooms every year with serious injuries to their hands, and many of them are unable to return to their jobs for extended periods — if at all.
Your job exposes your hands to multiple threats that could cause anything from superficial hand and wrist injuries like abrasions, blisters, bruises and minor cuts, to serious lacerations, electrical dangers, thermal and chemical burns and fractures. Catastrophic injuries could lead to amputations. However, if your employer provides adequate safety training and the necessary personal protective equipment that includes safety gloves, your hands might be safe.
Most common hand injuries
There is one more thing you need to protect your hands, and that is awareness. If you know which hand injuries occur most frequently, you could be alert to the hazards that cause them. The following injury types are most common:
- Punctures: When sharp objects penetrate your skin, puncture wounds occur. The dangers could be parts of equipment, machines and tools, or tacks, knives, nails or needles.
- Crushes: If a machine or heavy equipment catches your hand or wrist while it presses down or against a hard surface, it could crush your hand and cause permanent damage. If the force is enough to prevent blood flow to the muscles, you could lose the use of your hand.
- Lacerations: These are deep tears or cuts into the flesh of your hands. When the cut severs a tendon or nerve, long-term damage might result. This could keep you away from work for an extended period.
- Fractures: Your hands and wrists have hundreds of little bones that could break when a slip or trip causes you to fall. Crushing injuries can also cause broken bones, and if the fractures involve wrist bones, recovery could take weeks or even months.
- Avulsion fractures: These fractures cause detachments of pieces of bone and ligaments or tendons from the primary bone. For example, if you operate a machine while wearing a ring on your finger or a bracelet around your wrist, a working part of the machine could catch that piece of jewelry. The force of the pull could be severe enough to detach your finger or even your hand from your body.
In the unfortunate event of you suffering a serious hand injury, the Illinois workers’ compensation insurance system will have your back. The program typically provides benefits to cover medical expenses and lost wages. However, if your injury caused a permanent disability such as an amputation, you might be eligible for vocational training. This is where the support and guidance of an experienced workers’ compensation attorney can be invaluable. With his or her help, you might learn new skills to secure a different job that accommodates your disability.