Work-Related Injuries and Workers’ Comp
Work-related injuries are basically a part of any job, and because our hands and wrists play such an intricate role in our work activities, they are often subject to problems involving nerves, tendons, muscles, and supporting structures.
Follow the links below to learn more about your hands and work-related injuries.
- Risk Factors
- Work-related Injuries and Conditions
- Preventing Work-related Injuries
- THC Workers’ Compensation Team
Some of the risk factors identified as being associated with the likelihood of developing work related injuries, such as a repetitive stress injury include:
- Repetitive, forceful, or prolonged exertions of the hands
- Rapid hand and wrist movement
- Frequent or heavy lifting, pushing, pulling, or carrying heavy objects
- Prolonged awkward postures
- Low temperatures
Additional factors influencing the likelihood of developing a work-related problem include intensity, frequency and duration of the exposure to conditions listed above. These risk factors are also coupled with individual capacity to deal with the conditions, personal factors such as age and physical condition, as well as sociocultural and psychosocial factors.
Work-related musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities, including the hands and wrists, are quite common and occur in nearly all types of work situations. Each year, direct Workers’ Compensation costs due to these types of injuries are over $2 billion, plus an additional $90 million in indirect costs.
The highest rate of disorder was found in industry workers whose jobs required them to repeat the same type of forceful motion throughout their work shift, such as food processors, automobile and electronics assemblers, carpenters, office data entry workers, cashiers, and garment workers.
Disorders that affect the hand, wrist and fingers are often seen in people in these types of positions. The disorders may develop gradually, resulting from repeated actions and the twisting and bending of the hand, wrist, and arms, combines with force.
The most common work-related injury to the hands and wrist is carpal tunnel syndrome, which occurs when the median nerve becomes entrapped by irritated and swollen tendons in the wrist pressing on the nerve as it passes through the wrist. Workers whose jobs demand repetitive movement — not necessarily forceful or strenuous movements — of the wrist, hand and arm are most at risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome.
Other types of injuries and conditions commonly found in the wrist, hand, and fingers include:
- Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
- DeQuervain’s Disease
- Trigger Finger
Although it may be impossible to avoid all injuries in the workplace, there are steps you can take that will help reduce the risk of work-related injuries to your hands and wrists.
In the past few years, ergonomics, the science of fitting the work environment and conditions to the worker, has become an important focus in working toward a risk-free work environment. This research has resulted in the redesign of many problematic workspaces and tools, as well as changes in production procedures and manipulation of materials for many companies across the nation.
There are things that you can do to protect your hands and wrists from injury on-the-job. Below are a few suggestions you may want to try.
- Make sure you are aware of potentially dangerous situations, such as moving equipment that could catch your gloves or fingers, and follow all recommended safety procedures in the work place
- If your work requires you to use your hands extensively, find out what kinds of protective gear may be available, such as padded wrist supports on keyboards, or
- Determine if there are any types of conditioning exercises that may condition your hands and wrists so you can better tolerate repetitive movements in your work
- Keep your wrists in a natural or neutral position to avoid stress
- Use ergonomically designed tools when possible. When a specially designed tool is not available, select light-weight tools that allow you to keep your wrist and hand in the most neutral position possible during use. When possible, use power tools
- If you feel your work may include tasks that could cause an injury, talk with your supervisor. There may be a safer, less taxing way, to accomplish a task that may cause you problems later
If you are concerned about work-related injuries, you should discuss these concerns with your employer as soon as possible. If you are already experiencing a problem, see your physician and discuss Workers’ Compensation benefits that may be available to you.
The Central States Orthopedic has a staff of Workers’ Compensation coordinators that serve as liaisons between the Workers’ Compensation case managers and the physicians.
From the initial consultation with our physicians through treatment and any rehabilitation needed, our team of specialists work closely with the case managers, employers, adjustors, and physicians to ensure you receive all of the benefits that you are entitled to when you have a work-related injury.