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Farm Safety Week: Looking after your hands around the farm

This week is the Farm Safety Foundation’s Farm Safety Week. Hand surgeons see a range of patients who have injured their hands on farms, where close work with machinery and equipment increase the risk of accidents.

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Farm Safety Week 2019: Looking after your hands on the farm

Common injuries are usually caused by everyday tasks that farmers have done so many times before that they risk becoming complacent or losing concentration.

 

Resulting injuries can range from minor cuts caused by barbed wire, to fractures from heavier animals that startle in confined spaces.

 

Being careful can reduce the likelihood of accidents but can’t stop them from happening entirely.

 

To avoid injuries like these, here are some top tips to keep your hands safe on the farm:

 

  • Use your common sense and wear protective gear like gloves and safe footwear
  • Keep children away from machinery and follow machinery safety advice
  • Take general medical precautions like making sure your tetanus immunisation is up to date (this can make a big difference in preventing the spread of infection, if an accident does happen)
  • When an incident occurs, make sure that you get the appropriate treatment needed and don’t just put on a brave face
  • Apply direct pressure to bleeding if possible
  • Hold your hand up above your head to help stop bleeding
  • Put your hand under a tap and run water over it to clean away any dirt
  • Wrap your hand in a bandage or a clean tea-towel after washing it
  • Keep your hand elevated above your head

If the injury has gone all the way through the skin, go to hospital, where they will likely give you an injection of tetanus immunoglobulin for additional protection (all farmyard wounds are more likely to be contaminated by bacteria).

 

The wound will also need washing out and a course of antibiotics to prevent other bacteria spreading.


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Ask to be referred to a hand surgeon if there is any concern that the injury affects the deep structures in your hand (tendon, nerves and bones). You can discuss with your surgeon the best way to manage your injury and how long your hand function will likely be affected

Twenty per cent of visits to A&E departments in England are currently for hand trauma and hand injuries predominantly affect the young working population.

 

They can be a major source of disability and cause significant cost through time off work on top of the direct medical costs.

 

Where possible, it is important to prevent accidents, but when they do happen, it is vital that you take immediate action to get the appropriate medical care. Hand safety isn’t just for Farm Safety Week but all year round.

 

  • The British Society for Surgery of the Hand brings together multidisciplinary specialists to ensure patients with injured and disordered hands receive the best possible care when and where they need it.

 

Author: Jill Arrowsmith, member of British Society for Surgery of the Hand

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