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The True Costs of a Hand Injury in Construction

by Joe Geng on November 15, 2017

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There are nearly 6.5 million construction workers in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). These individuals are employed by construction companies of all sizes and types.

No matter whom they work for, construction workers face higher rates of work-related injury and death than nearly any other industry in the world.

Knowing your workers are at risk puts you and your company in a position to do everything you can to best protect them.

You know you must protect construction employees and contractors from the infamous Fatal Four construction accidents  electrical hazards, fall hazards, struck-by hazards and caught-in/-between hazards. But, the protection you provide must also come in the form of keeping your workers safe from daily hazards like cuts, lacerations and bruises.

 
construction worker wearing high visibility ppe

 

Construction Industry Among Highest for Hand Injuries:

After surveying 498 of our customers in various industries, we found the highest prevalence of hand injuries occurs within the construction industry:

5.4 hand injuries occur each year for every 100 construction workers.

This rounded statistic is a little misleading, however, as the number of injuries varies greatly depending on a construction company’s size. When looking at the results by company size, we found the following rates of hand injuries per 100 employees each year:

  • 32 hand injuries for companies with fewer than 100 employees
  • 6 hand injuries for companies with 100-500 employees
  • 8 hand injuries for companies with more than 500 employees

 
Regardless of the number of injuries reported by a company, each injury carries with it extensive direct and indirect costs for both the employer and the worker.

 

Click below for more findings.

infographic examples

 

The True Costs of a Hand Injury: Direct, Indirect & More

The true costs of a hand injury come not only from medical expenses but also from indirect sources such as diminished employee morale. Let’s examine both direct and indirect costs a little further.

According to OSHA, the average direct costs related to a laceration are $19,713. Those costs may include:

  • Lost work time
  • Medical and rehabilitative care
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Increased workers’ comp premiums

 
Indirect costs add up quickly and often exceed the direct-cost amount. In fact, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) estimates indirect- to direct-cost ratios anywhere between 1:1 to 20:1. Indirect costs can include:

  • Damaged machinery or tools
  • Worksite shutdown costs for investigation purposes
  • OSHA fines
  • Recruiting and training new hires
  • Increased administrative costs related to the injury
  • Reduced productivity due to lower employee morale
  • Negative media attention
  • Reasonable accommodation costs
  • Legal fees

 
Let’s not also forget the emotional costs that the injured employee sustains.

A hand injury can limit an employee from fully participating in all of life’s activities. It can alter an employee’s ability to play with their kids, take care of their household, or engage in intimacy with their partner. Any of these can greatly harm an employee’s psychological state, which can negatively impact their ability to work in any capacity for you.

 
exhausted construction worker

There’s also the strain that remaining employees feel by having to potentially pick up extra work to account for their coworker being out. Employee morale can also drop knowing that they are working under less-than-ideal safety conditions, including being provided lower-quality personal protective equipment (PPE) that doesn’t fit right or protect against a greater range of possible injuries.

 

Comparing the Costs of PPE

A wide range of personal protective equipment exists in the marketplace today. Broader offerings allow you to find PPE such as work gloves that fit well with your budget concerns.

Are you choosing the right pair of work gloves that fit your workers’ needs just as well?

In our customer survey, we found that most companies are spending $5 on a pair of gloves. They expect those gloves to last 10 days.

How much do you spend on gloves? $3?  $5? 8? More? And how often are you having to replace those gloves?

As you probably realize, the initial output for glove costs doesn’t always equate to monetary savings.

Say, for instance, you buy the $3 gloves knowing full well that they’ll last a week at most. When selecting these gloves, are you certain they fit your workers well? Or are your workers not bothering to wear them due to poor fit, inability to perform duties, or some other reason? As the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports, approximately 70% of hand injuries occur when workers are not wearing PPE.

 
construction workers wearing fall protection and high visibility clothing

Consider what might happen in you invest $8 or more into work gloves for your employees and contractors. How much longer might those gloves last? How much stronger are they? For example, in comparing Superior Gloves to many of our competitors, we found that our gloves outlasted the others by 300%. In a wash cycle test, our gloves lasted eight cycles versus two cycles for most of our competitors. This equates to annual savings exceeding $200,000.

Consider again the rate of hand injuries at large construction companies cited above: 0.8 hand injuries per 100 employees per year for companies with more than 500 employees. What makes their rates so low? When we asked this question directly, we found that these larger companies put great emphasis on the importance of purchasing and using personal protective equipment (PPE).

 
cement truck on a construction site

 

How You Can Keep the Costs of Hand Injuries Down

Whether you own a small, large or growing construction company, the best thing you can do to reduce hand injuries is to prioritize workplace safety and, specifically, higher-quality PPE. There are many steps you can take, starting today, that will bring immediate improvements to worker safety.

  • Invest in the right gloves for your workers: First and foremost, you need to provide higher-quality work gloves for your construction team. If you are currently spending only a few dollars per glove, now’s the time to rethink your purchases. Look for gloves cost closer to $8 and that offer an ANSI cut level 2 rating.
  • Incorporate safety into all aspects of training: From initial onboarding to ongoing education, ensure that every step of the learning process includes an emphasis on workplace safety and the use of the proper types of PPE. You can make your investment in the right type of work gloves go further by teaching your employees and contractors the importance of wearing them at all times while on a job site.
  • Hire an on-site safety manager: According to ScienceDirect, companies that employ onsite safety managers are 3.5 less likely to have accidents than companies that work without one. This not only proves that you are putting safety first, but it also enables someone on-site to focus solely on keeping every safe.

 

Are You Weighing the Right Costs When It Comes to PPE & Hand Injuries?

The true costs of a hand injury are much greater than a few stitches in the E.R. And while you may not be able to prevent every accident, you can prevent most hand injuries by investing in the right type of PPE for your construction workers. If you’re ready to reconsider your PPE purchases, we encourage you to reach out today to join our free Advocate Partnership Program. We will work closely with you to identify the right gloves that fit your workers’ needs while also fitting your budget.


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