Hand in hand with safety at work

Mr Stewart Flemming, consultant hand and plastic surgeon at St Andrew’s
Centre for Plastic Surgery, Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford gave a presentation
explaining the common types of work-related hand injuries he sees, their causes
and the means by which they can be prevented.

About 16 per cent to 20 per cent of all cases seen in casualty are hand
injuries and types of injury encountered break down into three main categories:

– Injuries due to work machinery or products

– Work-related upper limb pain and

– Injuries at work not directly related to work, for instance from falls,
scalds and so on.

In a surgical context some specific types of hand surgery problems occur.
Destructive injury which include cutting injuries caused by glass and blades as
well as spindle, plane, and saw injuries; and crushing injuries and avulsions,
for example letterbox injuries.

Mr Flemming went on to describe work-related arm problems including
tenosynovitis, carpal tunnel syndrome and other nerve entrapments,
osteoarthritis of thumb and wrist, hand-transmitted vibration injury and RSI.

The causes of these injuries will be familiar to OH nurses.

Mr Flemming concluded that most injuries are eminently preventable by having
recourse to good work practices, risk assessments, education and awareness, and
plenty of feedback.

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