The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System reports that the fingers and hand are the most frequent body parts injured at work and treated in hospital emergency departments. In this study, we describe the type, location, and severity of occupational hand injuries among 1166 patients recruited from 23 occupational health clinics in five New England states. Subjects ranged in age from 18 to 77 years, with a mean of 37.2 years (SD, 11.4), and approximately 75% were men. In decreasing order of frequency, subjects were employed in machine trades, service work, structural work, and less frequently, in benchwork, professional, technical managerial and clerical, and sales work. The majority of subjects (83.4%) had a single type of injury: 62.6% were lacerations, 13.1% were crush injuries, 8.0% were avulsions, and 6.1% were punctures. Metal items, such as nails, metal stock, and burrs accounted for 38.4% of the injuries, followed by hand tools with blades and powered machinery (24.4% and 12.3%, respectively). Hand tools with blades were least likely to result in multiple types of injuries, whereas powered machines or nonpowered hand tools were more likely to result in multiple types of injuries than other injury sources. The generalizability of these results should be limited to clinic-based patients employed in similar occupations. The results of this study may suggest possible prevention strategies for acute traumatic hand injuries.
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