A 2016 report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that more than 20 percent of injuries that occur in American workplaces impact the hand or fingers, ranging from minor lacerations and punctures to catastrophic crushing injuries and amputations. Because accidents can occur in various ways, there can also be many factors impacting the severity of a hand or finger injury.
Depending on the exact circumstances that led to your injury and the degree in which it impacts your personal and professional life, the value of your workers’ compensation case may fluctuate significantly. A qualified litigator could discuss your unique situation with you and help determine what elements of your case may justify greater benefits. They may also help in getting workers’ comp to help you work toward recovery.
Having Appropriate Safety Equipment
The easiest and most impactful way to lessen the risk of hand injuries in the workplace is to wear personal protective equipment whenever a job task involves mechanical or contact hazards. The Occupational Safety & Health Administration argues that over 70 percent of all work-related arm and hand injuries could have been avoided if the injured party had been wearing the right safety gear.
Unfortunately, about the same percentage of workers do not wear any hand protection at all, even while working around sharp tools or heavy machinery. A significant portion of workers do wear protective equipment but do not wear the right type of equipment for the task they are performing. Unfortunately, this means the presence of safety gear—or lack thereof, due to employee carelessness or an employer’s failure to provide appropriate equipment—is a major factor that influences how severe a hand or finger injury can be.
Failing to Seek Medical Attention
In the aftermath of a work accident, some may find it tempting to shrug off what seems like a minor injury, so they can continue with their workday and avoid falling behind on their responsibilities. However, it is crucial to seek a professional medical diagnosis after any workplace accident.
Conditions like hairline fractures, tendon strains, and small lacerations in the hands may not be extremely painful at first. However, without proper treatment, these injuries can worsen quickly and may end up putting that employee out of work for much longer than they would have been had they simply gotten an accurate assessment from a doctor early on.
Job Responsibilities and Hand Dominance
Even with proper safety equipment and care, the impact of a hand or finger injury can vary, depending on the specific job duties an injured worker has and how they perform them. For example, an injury in the left hand may not impact a naturally right-handed person as much as it would a naturally left-handed person. Seemingly small differences such as these can have a huge impact on how long an injury keeps someone out of work and what kind of income loss they sustain as a result.
However, if a person who normally performs manual labor suffers a hand or finger injury at work and can transition to a desk job or similar role that does not require manual labor while they heal, they may not see as much of a decline in wages or salary due to their accident.
Factors impacting the severity of a hand and finger injury may vary. However, regardless of circumstance, having legal assistance may be key to maximizing available workers’ comp benefits if such an injury completely prevents a victim from working on a temporary or permanent basis.