Several jobs require the use of sharp objects regularly, from restaurant employees operating meat slicers to industrial workers using box cutters. These workers usually receive particular training to use these tools. Additionally, most people learn from a young age to use extreme caution when handling sharp objects.
Yet, many employees might be surprised to find that cuts and lacerations are one of the most common work injuries employees experience in a variety of fields.
Cuts are more dangerous than many might think
The National Safety Council reports that open wounds are some of the most common injuries that keep employees out of work. Many people might overlook this risk and place more weight on injuries considered more serious, such as broken limbs or traumatic brain injuries.
However, open wounds from workplace accidents can be incredibly dangerous injuries, and if they occur during the course of employment, they are likely compensable injuries under Worker’s Compensation law in Maryland (Maryland Code, Labor & Employment §9-501).
Open wounds often include:
- Puncture wounds from needles or sharp tools;
- Lacerations from sharp machinery or knives; and
- Avulsions in a forklift accident or explosion.
These are some of the most common injuries in various industries, but that does not detract from the danger. Cuts can severely damage the skin and any internal organs and muscles the sharp object touches. Individuals might also suffer complications from blood loss.
The risk of infection from these wounds is also a hazard to many workers. For example, we discussed in a past blog post how emergency medical technicians face a risk of infection from accidental needle sticks or cuts in improperly sterilized environments. Additionally, a worker need not be in the medical field to experience a serious infection. Microscopic bacteria may enter a wound on a job and result in the destruction of cell tissue, such as cellulitis, and require hospitalization.
How can workers avoid the risks from cuts and lacerations?
Both inexperienced and experienced workers face risks when they do not:
- Wear the proper safety gear, such as cut-resistant gloves;
- Cut away from their body;
- Use the proper tools;
- Use functioning and appropriately sharpened tools; or
- Use proper safety techniques.
Therefore, employees should seek further training and ensure they take the proper precautions each and every time they operate dangerous machinery or use tools with sharp edges to avoid serious injuries. Should a worker experience a cut or laceration on the job, they should immediately notify their supervisor, seek medical attention if the wound worsens, and consider contacting an attorney to ensure their rights and health are protected.