Dealing with commonplace injuries in industry
Injuries can occur in the majority of working environments as most workplaces pose health and safety risks in some shape or form.
It is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that all reasonable precautionary measures are taken to avoid serious long-term illness and disability, the most common of which include:
- Vibration white finger
- Industrial deafness
- Occupational dermatitis
- Asbestos poisoning
If you work in an environment where you are susceptible to one of the above then it is vital to know and understand the symptoms to prevent further deterioration.
For the employee
Industrial injury claims can be made if an employer has been negligent of the duties they are legally obliged to fulfil. The employer must take preventative measures to protect against any potential hazards by monitoring equipment and machinery in the work environment, and ensure that employees are able to operate safely.
If an employer does not comply with the health and safety regulations and this results in an employee becoming injured, there are valid grounds for a claim.
Symptoms, causes and prevention of industrial injuries
Vibration White Finger
Vibration White Finger, also known as Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS), is predominantly caused by elongated use of machinery such as power drills and chainsaws. HAVS is one of the most common industrial injuries and can cause substantial disruption to the sufferer’s life if ignored or left untreated.
The disease can occur after long periods of time using vibrating machinery; the vibrations can pass through the fingers, hands and arms causing damage to the small nerves and blood vessels which lead to poor circulation.
As a result sufferers will notice a whitening of their fingers, a tingling sensation, numbness and pins and needles particularly in cold weather. Should sufferers continue to use such machinery after noticing these symptoms, they are at risk of long term damage to their dexterity in all weather conditions.
Employers can prevent HAVS from the onset by providing employees with the correct equipment and training. Supplying anti-vibration gloves and ensuring employees take regular 10 minute breaks away from the machinery can help avoid damage, as can making sure tools are properly maintained.
Deafness can occur in the workplace as the result of an overtly noisy environment. The average office has a maximum decibel level of 40, whereas a drill or machinery can be 100-110dB.
Long term exposure to over 80dB can cause irreversible damage to your ears; this means people working in textile factories, building sites, pubs and bars are particularly prone to tinnitus or other acoustic problems.
Deafness can affect any age group, you may become aware that sounds are muffled or you struggle hearing the television when it is loud for everyone around you. Employers can take simple steps against the dangers of noise induced deafness such as providing ear plugs and monitoring noise levels.
There are two types of dermatitis which are caused by coming into contact with a specific substance.
Allergic contact dermatitis is caused when the body’s immune system has an abnormal reaction to a substance, typically resulting in an itchy red rash. It can be caused by various allergens including; metal, latex, rubber, glue and plants.
Irritant contact dermatitis occurs after exposure to a substance such as disinfectants, detergents and cosmetics over a prolonged period of time. This exposure can lead to a painful stinging or burning sensation not dissimilar to eczema.
Dermatitis can develop in the workplace of various industries where chemicals or oils are used, and worsen if conditions are too dry, hot or cold causing rubbing and excessive irritation to the skin. Industries in which dermatitis in common include:
- Nursing and dentistry