Industrial hand injuries as seen at Avenue hospital, Nairobi
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Background: Industrial hand injuries can result in functional and economic loss and poor quality of life. Objective: To determine the cause and mechanism of industrial hand injuries, the risk factors and safety measures taken in industries. Design: Prospective study from September 2009 to March 2012. Setting: Avenue Hospital, Nairobi, Kenya. Methodology: A Prospective study of consented hand injured adult workers admitted and operated on from September 2009 to March 2012. Noted was age, gender, occupation, experience, cause of injury and mechanism, industry involved, time of injury, duration of shift at injury and whether safety measures were taught. Results: Of the 75 patients, males were 71 (94.7%). The average age was 34.2 years with a range of 19 to 62 years. All patients had right hand dominance. Majority 52 (69.3%) of the patients were machine operators. This together with the assistant machine operators and technicians comprised 61 (81.3%). Patients with work experience of less than 6 months and more than 60 months had a greater risk of sustaining injury and loss of concentration 25 (33.3%) was the main contributory factor. Plastic products manufacturing ﬁrms contributed 36 (48.0%) of the injuries. The mechanism of injury was crushing, 63 (84.0%) and cutting 12 (16.0%). The morning shift (7:00am to 12:00 noon) accounted for 34 (45.3%) of the injuries, with 23 (30.7%) occurring between 10:00am and 12:00 noon. The ﬁrst 4 hours of the shift accounted for 39 (52%) of the injuries. A shift of 9 hours or more accounted for 15 (20%). The majority 55 (73.3%) of the workers had been taught safety measures with 96.4% having been taught more than once. Conclusion: Inexperienced workers and those with long experience of more than 60 months tended to have a higher risk of injury. Most of the injuries occurred during the morning shift. A shift of 9 hours or more seemed not to be associated with increased risk of injury. Only 20 (26.7%) of the injured had not been taught safety measures compared with 55 (73.3%) who had been taught. Loss of concentration was the main contributory factor. Recommendation: Enhancement in safety education and training, proper design and maintenance of equipment and machines coupled by greater involvement by management and possibly taking punitive measures on workers who ﬂout safety measures may help to minimize injuries at the workplace.