Many workplace injuries can be prevented by familiarizing both employers and employees with the most common injuries that occur in certain lines of work, as well as how to possibly prevent them from happening. Most, if not all, jobs require the use of the hands to perform work duties, therefore, upper extremity injuries are some of the most common treated by orthopaedic surgeons.
Common hand and upper extremity injuries that are oftentimes preventable include, but are not limited to rotator cuff injuries, lateral epicondylitis (tennis elbow), and finger injuries (lacerations or crushes).
Shoulder and elbow injuries may occur with job duties such as lifting, pushing, pulling, and repetitive activities. Proper stretching exercises, as well as techniques to perform these work maneuvers correctly, should be incorporated into new hire orientation. Refresher courses are recommended every quarter or when an injury occurs to reinforce this knowledge and decrease the likelihood of recurrence.
Crush injuries and lacerations are two of the most frequent mechanisms for finger injuries in the workplace. Wearing work gloves can oftentimes prevent minor finger injuries from happening. Many injuries happen when a worker loses focus, gets tired, or is distracted. When using machinery or equipment, it is imperative to stay focused on the job and not get distracted or look away.
Though some injuries occurring from repetitive activities may not be completely preventable, making sure not to exceed the allotted shift-work time is also a key factor in reducing workplace injuries. Specifically, labor-intensive jobs (i.e., construction, bricklaying, warehouse packing, delivery, etc.) have a higher rate of work-related injuries. So, sticking to a strict shift timeline decreases the risk of injury.
If an injury does occur, prompt reporting is key so evaluation and management are provided quickly for the betterment of the patient. Certain injuries may not seem “major” enough to report to supervisors. However, no matter how minor an injury may seem, proper evaluation of a workplace injury is essential to making sure a minor injury does not turn into a bigger problem in the future. Oftentimes, it is much easier to address the injury when it first happens rather than wait weeks, months, or even years before getting it evaluated. Delay in care could lead to poor if not catastrophic outcomes for the injured person based on the severity of the initial injury or the sequelae that arise from waiting to seek care.
Ultimately, for every workplace injury, no matter how large or small it may seem, it is imperative to get evaluated and obtain the proper treatment. The coordination and cooperation of the employee, employer, and physician are key in obtaining a good outcome for the patient and decreasing the amount of time lost from work. Remember, the well-being of the injured person is the most important factor for everyone.
Maharsh K. Patel, M.D., is a Hand and Upper Extremity Specialist at OrthoGeorgia. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Microbiology from the University of Georgia, graduating summa cum laude. He then earned his Doctor of Medicine from the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University, graduating summa cum laude. Dr. Patel is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the American Society for Surgery of the Hand. His interests include peripheral nerve surgery including endoscopic carpal tunnel release, Dupuytren’s disease, and treatment of shoulder, elbow, and hand arthritis, along with the care and treatment of sports injuries. Patients can meet with Dr. Patel at our Macon and Milledgeville offices.
At OrthoGeorgia, we are committed to providing high quality medical care to all who come to see us, including injured employees so that they can return back to work quickly and safely. Our Workers’ Compensation program in Central GA is centered on three main components – access, communication, and consistency. We are proud to provide comprehensive orthopaedic care focused on a variety of specialties, including spine, hand, sports medicine, foot & ankle, and total joint care. We work with patients of all ages at our offices in Macon, Macon Spine and Orthopaedic Center, Warner Robins, Kathleen, Milledgeville, Dublin, and Griffin. To learn more about the orthopaedic care we provide or to schedule an appointment at the location nearest you, please contact OrthoGeorgia today!
At OrthoGeorgia, we want to help you live a healthier and more comfortable life by giving those in Macon, Warner Robins, Kathleen, Milledgeville, Dublin, Griffin, and the surrounding areas convenient access to the highest quality care. Whether you have been suffering from a sports injury or a common orthopaedic condition, we will determine the cause of your discomfort and craft a personalized treatment plan to bring you relief. To learn more about our services and our physicians, or to schedule an appointment at OrthoGeorgia, please contact us today.