Properly treat workplace wounds

Regardless of the amount of safety training and precautions you take as a company, at some point in time an accident will happen.

When that accident does occur, do you employees know how to properly react?

This article will focus on the treatment and identification of cuts and lacerations, which are constantly ranked as one of the most common workplace injuries. Furthermore approximately 30 percent of all accidents involve cuts or lacerations.

Typical causes of these lacerations include improper training lack of established safety procedures, employees in a hurry, taking short cuts or not following safety procedures, failure to wear cut-resistant gloves or wearing improper gloves for job, missing or improperly adjusted guarding, poor housekeeping, poor lighting and more.

Identifying the type of wound

A bleeding wound is typically one of the four varieties.

  • Abrasion: An abrasion is a wound that is caused by friction. Signs of a friction wound are typically missing skin and minimal bleeding. These wounds are typically of minor nature
  • Cut: A cut refers to a wound in which there is separation of the tissue. Unlike an abrasion none of the skin is missing. A cut is wound caused by a sharp object. These wounds can vary from minor to serious.
  • Laceration: A laceration is a torn or jagged wound. The typical cause of laceration include is blunt trauma (such as a blow, fall, or collision). Cuts and lacerations can be grouped in the same category and the terms are often interchanged.
  • Avulsion: An avulsion is a wound where tissue is not just separated but torn away from the body. These wounds are typically serous in nature.

Determining type of bleeding

  • Capillary bleeding: This type of bleeding is caused typically by abrasion wounds. The wound opens tiny capillaries just below the skins surface. Capillary bleeding usually slows or stops before any serious blood loss can occur.
  • Venous bleeding: This form of bleeding is caused from deeper wounds to the tissue puncture veins. It is characterized by blood that is dark red in color and slowly exits the body. This type of bleeding is typically not life-threatening unless the blood loss cannot be stopped.
  • Arterial bleeding: This type of bleeding is caused by the laceration of an artery. It is characterized by spurting blood that is bright red in color. Arterial bleeding is the most difficult type of blood loss to control. Even a small, deep arterial puncture wound can cause the loss of life. Seek medical help immediately if this type of bleeding is suspect.

Treatment

When an employee suffers a cut it is important to immediately treat the wound. The first part of treatment is to stop the bleeding.

To stop bleeding put pressure directly on the wound with sterile gauze or other bandage. This coupled with elevating the wound above heart level should stop the bleeding within 15 minutes.

If the bleeding won't stop after 15 minutes try to use the pressure point nearest the wound and call for emergency medical help immediately.

Common pressure points

  • Brachial artery: Arm between shoulder and elbow
  • Femoral artery: Groin area along bikini line
  • Popliteal artery: Behind the knee

Clean the wound

Once bleeding has stopped clean the wound by washing the adjacent skin with soap and water and removing crusted blood with diluted hydrogen peroxide.

Next, irrigate the wound by squirting a saline solution into the wound. This is a highly effective way to reduce the potential for bacterial infection.

If bleeding starts during the treatment, reapply pressure.

Repair/bandaging

After cleaning the wound it is important to properly bandage to prevent infection. To do this apply an antibiotic cream to the inside of the bandage material being used as the dressing.

Next cover the wound with the dressing. The dressing should extend beyond the wound by about 1/2 inch so that it covers the wound completely and allows room to affix the dressing to uninjured skin.

Once the dressing is on the wound cut four strips of athletic tape and use them to attach the dressing to the skin. The bandage shouldn't be too loose (able to move around) or too tight (impairing circulation).

If there is a risk that the wound will be exposed to water, cover the bandage with waterproof material such as waterproof tape or plastic.

Does my employee need to go ER?

Use these questions to evaluate if you need to send an injured employee to the emergency room.

  • Can you stop the bleeding?
  • Are the wound edges separated?
  • Can you adequately clean the wound? Is it possible that serious underlying damage was done (such as a cut nerve or tendon)?
  • Has the employee had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years?

For a free documentable safety meeting on first aid for lacerations email mrich@safetyservicescompany.com.

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