As a skilled professional in the construction field, you probably use your hands quite a bit while working on any given day. Whether you help weld metal joints or work as a carpenter, your manual strength and dexterity both play important roles in your ability to do your job.
When people think about catastrophic workplace injuries, they often think about major medical issues like brain injuries or spinal cord injuries that can have a catastrophic impact on someone’s independence and mobility. However, an injury doesn’t have to leave you in a wheelchair or unable to provide for yourself to change your life abruptly.
For those who work in skilled trades or construction, injuries to their hands could be enough to end their career and reduce their income to a fraction of what it once was.
Fractures in your hands, fingers or wrists could leave you unable to work
Maybe a piece of equipment fell on your hands, or perhaps a co-worker missed their target when swinging a hammer. Broken bones in your hands can occur for a wide range of reasons on construction sites, but how you obtain the fracture matters far less than how severe the injury turns out to be.
Individuals who experience multiple fractures or compound fractures in their hands, wrists or fingers will typically have a worse prognosis than someone who has a single, clean fracture to one place on their hands. You will find yourself unable to use your hands at all while the fracture heals. That could take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, depending on the severity of the initial injury.
However, even after you begin to heal, you may find that your overall flexibility, range of motion, strength or dexterity is simply not what it once was. You can easily suffer from diminishing strength and ongoing symptoms even long after the bone itself heels.
Doing the same task all day could leave you and your hands at risk
Spending eight hours or more each day gripping a hammer or another tool could eventually give rise to serious symptoms that limit your mobility and ability to work. Repetitive motion injuries, also known as repetitive stress or strain injuries, result from using part of your body to perform the same task over and over again for a protracted amount of time.
Whether you are gripping and lifting items or twisting pieces into place using your fingers and wrists, you can cause damage to the connective tissue in your joints and the active muscles that will accumulate and worsen over time. Although rest, physical therapy and potentially surgery can decrease your symptoms, many people who develop repetitive motion injuries find that they cannot indefinitely continue to perform the same tasks without worsening their injury and pain.
Workplace injuries that may seem minor on the surface can have a catastrophic effect on your life if they diminish the wages you are able to command. If your hand injuries related to your job have effectively ended your career, it may be time to explore whether workers’ compensation or a personal injury claim can offset the reduction in potential income.