Hand and Wrist Injuries in the Workplace
by John Blyth
Construction work, as well as virtually all other occupations, require extensive use of one’s hands. Hand and wrist injuries are therefore not only extremely common in the context of work injuries, but also particularly debilitating. Without optimal use of one’s hands, even the most menial of tasks can prove severely challenging and painful. Continuing to work through a hand or wrist injury can exacerbate it, and even cause permanent damage however traumatic or minor the injury initially appears to be. It is therefore important to immediately seek a professional medical opinion to determine the extent of the injury and ensure the appropriate precautions are taken. Absent a formal medical diagnosis and appropriate treatment risks further and potentially irreparable harm – physically, personally, financially, and legally.
Combined, the human hand and wrist are composed of 27 distinct bones, as well as numerous nerves, tendons, ligaments and muscles. It then goes without saying that there are numerous injuries hands are prone to. In fact, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Reports reveal over one million workers are sent to the emergency room for hand-related work injuries each year. An unfortunate truth is that there always are potential hazards present in even the most prudent of workplaces. While workers injured on the job are generally entitled to workers’ compensation benefits regardless of fault, those benefits can be severely limited.
Thankfully, there are legal protections available to injured workers that can be far more comprehensive than most are commonly led to believe. Construction workers, for example, are extremely susceptible to hand and wrist injuries due to the dangerous nature of their work. There are numerous labor laws that specifically provide for additional protection and compensation outside the scope of workers’ compensation benefits. Under New York labor law, injuries caused by falling objects, falls from heights, dangerous or defective equipment, and insufficient safety gear or protocols, all could entitle construction workers to compensation they could not otherwise receive under workers’ compensation laws.
Additional legal remedies that are not covered under workers’ compensation laws are not only afforded to injured construction workers, but all workers who are injured on the job due to third-party negligence. A restaurant worker who suffers first-degree burns to his hand caused by a defective kitchen appliance could have a viable claim against the product’s manufacturer. An office employee who falls from a faulty chair, fracturing her wrist, could have a viable third-party personal injury claim. A school teacher whose hand is crushed by a door due to a malfunctioning closing mechanism could be entitled to collect additional compensation. These are only a few examples of the countless types of injuries where workers are entitled to broader protection than workers’ compensation laws afford.
If you have suffered a hand or wrist injury, whether in the workplace or elsewhere, always seek medical attention immediately. The next step you should take to protect yourself is consulting with an experienced personal injury attorney who will fight for you to receive the full compensation you are entitled to.
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