5 Common Hand Health Problems for Skilled Laborers (And How to Prevent Them)

When you work as a skilled laborer, you rely on your hands. Unfortunately, because of how much you use your hands, you become vulnerable to many hand health conditions.

In this blog, we list five common hand-related issues that affect skilled laborers and offer advice for preventing each issue.

1. Burns

Many hands-on technical fields include working closely with wiring and mechanical components that can become hot. Burn injuries are particularly common among electrical workers since electricity can cause burns without direct contact.

Mild burns can cause pain and discomfort that may impact your ability to work. Severe burns can inhibit the use of the hands and leave scars.

Prevent burn injuries by taking these steps:

  • Always turn off the power to equipment before you begin work.
  • Follow protocol, especially in high-risk situations.
  • Wear protective gloves and long sleeved work clothes.

Use common sense when welding, working with electricity, or using hot machinery to avoid burns.

2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Carpal tunnel syndrome, or CTS, occurs when the tendons in the wrist become too inflamed to operate normally within the space between the bones of the wrist, known as the carpal tunnel.

CTS makes hand motions less precise and often causes persistent pain in the wrist, palm, and fingers. Take these precautions against CTS development:

  • Avoid working when your hands are cold or stiff.
  • Take frequent breaks, especially if you notice numbness in your hands.
  • Wear a brace overnight to keep your wrist straight.

Work with your doctor to determine if you have other risk factors for CTS, such as obesity or poor posture.

3. Lacerations

You work with tools and mechanical parts that have sharp edges on a daily basis. Cuts and scrapes represent the most common injury for skilled laborers. According to the US Bureau of Labor, 63% of all work-related injuries are lacerations.

While many lacerations are just inconvenient, a deep cut can affect the use of the hand and may contaminate a worksite through blood contact.

Protect yourself against lacerations in the following ways:

  • Avoid using materials or equipment that you are not trained for.
  • Wear work gloves when handling sharp objects.

If you or a co-worker sustain a cut, put pressure on the wound and clean up any blood as soon as possible.

4. Joint Pain

Frequent physical labor can leave you with aches and pains, especially in your hands. Over time, chronic joint pain may make it difficult for you to do your job efficiently, especially if you also experience swelling around the affected joints.

Prevent joint pain by doing the following:

  • Change positions when you feel discomfort in your hands.
  • Keep your elbows and wrists straight when possible.
  • Practice good posture.

If you experience joint pain, use cold therapy and a brace to decrease your symptoms.

5. Overexertion

Skilled laborers are at a high risk for overexertion injuries due to the physical nature of their work. Overexertion injuries affecting the hands often occur due to excess pressure, long-term use of vibrating equipment, or repetitive motions. Overexertion can lead to fatigue, which contributes to the risk of more serious injuries.

Avoid overexertion by doing the following:

  • Do not push yourself during lifting or pressing motions.
  • Take frequent breaks when working with vibrating equipment.

Follow all worksite safety policies to reduce the risk of overexertion.

 

Remember, your two fundamental safeguards against injury are work knowledge and basic safety equipment. Stay educated in your field and never perform any work without the use of appropriate safety gear.

If you have sustained any of the injuries listed above or suspect you may be developing a hand health condition, address your concerns with your primary care physician as soon as possible. Use the prevention methods detailed above to ensure that you can continue to do your best work.