The 27 bones that make up the wrist and hand are some of the hardest working and most complex in the human body. Think about how different the daily activities we all take for granted would be without them. Hands are the perfect tool for opening jars or typing emails. They’re ideally suited to sealing a deal or saying hello. And hands are also the perfect instruments to help emphasize a point or express emotions.
While our hand’s functional importance is obvious, the obstacles and hazards we’re exposed to everyday that threaten to impede that function aren’t always as readily apparent. In the U.S., workplace hand injuries account for more than 1,000,000 emergency room visits each year. And with ever-increasing healthcare costs, workers’ compensation claims, and loss of productivity, easily preventable hand injuries can be much more costly than you might think.
So, what can you do to help make hand safety a priority to your workforce?
First and foremost, it’s important to simply make your workforce aware of potential dangers and the procedures for responding to them. While hand injuries are typically more common in commercial jobs, there are still many hazards to be found in the office. From accidental slip and fall incidents to more progressive injuries such as carpel tunnel syndrome, desk-bound workers are at risk for hand and wrist issues too, which could translate to costly healthcare and workers’ compensation expenses for you.
There are extensive resources available to you through organizations, like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to help you keep your workforce informed about hand safety, as well as tips on how to build a safer work environment.
Invest now, save later
According to the American Medical Association, approximately 3% of adults may suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome and more often than ever, workers are opting for surgery to correct the problem. What if 3% of your workforce sought surgical attention for their injuries? What would that do to your healthcare costs? Your bottom line?
An early investment in adequate office equipment and training could save you some unnecessary expenses later. Opt for ergonomically designed keyboards. Hire a safety consultant to tour your building to help identify potential hazards throughout the workplace. And invest in periodic training to teach your employees how to avoid office dangers and to adopt proper working techniques. A little foresight can make a major impact on the future of your company and the safety of your people.
Another important part of building hand safety awareness is to maintain accountability. Make your workforce understand that it’s not only important to watch out for themselves, but for each other as well. Show them the obvious costs associated with treating and preventing hand injuries, and make them aware of the not-so-obvious costs, like loss of productivity or increased workloads due to coworkers on medical leave. The idea is to make it personal for them and to show the impact one person can have on an entire group.
While hand injuries are only one of many potential workplace hazards your employees encounter each day, they are also one of the most common. However, it only takes a little foresight and preparation to make an impact and keep your people safe.