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Hand Injury Statistics

The scale and consequences of workplace hand accidents

Our hands are amazingly versatile, allowing us to carry out everyday tasks and precision movements with minimal effort. However, this also means they can be exposed to a multitude of hazards in the workplace which, in worst case scenarios, result in serious injuries.

Most hand injuries result from physical or chemical hazards, with the consequences ranging from skin conditions to cuts to hands.

Hand Injury Statistics

Despite slowly declining incidents of hand accidents at work, the accident figures are still high. Year after year, hand injuries are the leading cause of workplace injury and result in an average of more than a week off work.

In 2019 - 2020, there were over 16,000 non-fatal workplace injuries affecting the hand and wrist; 25% of all non-fatal injuries. Of those, over 11,000 instances resulted in the worker needing over seven days' absence. Even minor incidents, where return to work is possible sooner, can mean the injured person having to transfer to lighter duties.

Cut Injuries

There are 122,000 self-reported cases of lacerations annually in Great British workplaces. Figures have remained level over recent years, indicating that more needs to be done to improve safety around these types of accidents.

Cuts to hands contributed to the 17,000 lacerations which resulted in more than three days' absence and 11,000 leading to over seven days' absence.

In total, laceration/open wound injuries result in 247,000 days' absence from work annually. On average 2.8 days are lost per injured worker with all the consequences that has for both businesses and the individual.

Injured hand

Exposure to Chemicals

REACH figures show 21,500 chemicals are registered for use in Europe in volumes of over 1 tonne, and nearly every workplace has chemical hazards they need to assess. In Britain, an estimated two million workers have regular contact with solvents, and approximately one in three workers report having worked in a job where they were exposed to these chemicals at some stage in their working lives.

The Consequences of Exposure

Many, even everyday chemicals, are hazardous with accidental contact resulting in adverse reactions ranging from minor skin irritation to third-degree burns and absorption into the bloodstream. The effects can be short term but also long term and life changing.

  • In 2018/19 there were 800 non-fatal injuries that resulted from exposure to or contact with a harmful substance
  • In 745 cases the injured employee missed more than 7 work days
  • 964 new cases of occupational dermatitis were recorded annually by consultant dermatologists in 2018. With 7,000 self-reported new cases of "skin problems" caused or made worse by work, that figure is likely to be under-reported
Hand with skin that has dry, flaking red patches and is inflamed due to dermatitis

With hand and wrist injuries being so common in the workplace, there is plenty of room for improvement when it comes to implementing policies and procedures to minimise the risks of accidents.

Hand injuries are very often avoidable and protective gloves can reduce hand injuries by up to 60%.

The Cost of Hand Injuries

Hand and wrist injuries cost an estimated £1.3 billion per year. Injuries end up costing employers in terms of lost productivity, repairs and remedial work and incidence investigation.

Replacement Staff

Research by Oxford Economics found that the average cost to recruit temporary staff is £5,400. That doesn't take into account their wages, which are on average 20% higher.

Fines and Compensation

In some cases, incidents result in HSE fines, compensation payments and increases in insurance premiums. Personal injury guidelines show you could face compensation payments of up to £25,000 for common hand injuries. Compensation for a deep laceration to the dominant hand with permanent disability could be as high as £72,000.

Reputation Damage

Employee engagement and the company's reputation within the industry can also be seriously affected by safety breaches.

Arco employee helps customer examine potential costs of a safety incident printed on large sheet

Personal Impact

For individual employees, the personal impact of their hand injury are financial, physical and emotional and can be life-changing. With long term conditions such as dermatitis, the longer health effects are ignored and left untreated, the more severe the consequences, as it becomes less likely that workers will recover.

By protecting employees, you can be sure that your workforce can efficiently get on with the task in hand whilst minimising exposure to common hand injuries and the subsequent cost to your business.

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