Minor cuts, scrapes, bruises and burns… they’re a part of daily life with most of them taking place in the home. However, it’s not uncommon for them to occur in a place of employment. A majority of companies have some type of accident policy (with risk assessment) that dictates what happens in these types of cases.
For instance, if a wound is extremely deep (is in need of stitches) or something foreign has become embedded in the body, medical attention is sought right away.
Also in the policy, employers layout that they have a legal obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees. One such obligation is to provide a dedicated first aid responder to help them deal with the relatively small injuries – to stave off the possibility of infection.
Clean Wounds With Soap and Running Water
When you treat a person, you want to make sure your hands are clean – soap and warm water. If not possible, use an antibacterial wipe or wash. With clean hands, you’ll reduce the chance for further contamination.
Be sure to use cool water to eliminate the debris and dust in and near the wound. Place the wound directly under running water or put clean water onto the wound. You can use an antibacterial wipe or soap to clear out the debris and dirt.
Clean water that’s cool to the touch is often ideal for minor cuts, scrapes and burns. If you put something stronger on the wound, it could cause additional injury to occur.
Place Pressure On The Wound To Stop The Bleeding
Most minor cuts such as paper cuts or hang nails will quit bleeding eventually. And, a minute amount of blood is often helpful to clean the cut. Many times, the head and hands will bleed excessively because of the amount of blood vessels in these areas. The best thing to do is not to panic, place pressure onto the wound using gauze or clean cloth. Again, you’ll need to clean it up.
If you notice any blood coming through the cloth, just keep putting pressure on the wound. Don’t pick the cloth up to see how the bleeding is doing. This may inadvertently cause it to bleed once again.
When the cut is on the hand or arm, raising it above the head will slow the bleeding down. If the bleeding continues for more than three minutes or begins spurting, you need to get medical help immediately.
In most cases, the body will take care of the injury itself. The best thing to do is to keep calm and keep the injured person calm as well. With a firm level of pressure placed on the wound, the bleeding will eventually stop.
Apply Antibiotic Cream/Ointment and Cover The Affected Area
In order to reduce the chances of infection at work, it’s important to use an antibiotic cream or ointment and cover the area. For instance, you can place a thin layer of Savlon, so the area is moist and won’t scar. Cover the wound, using a sterile bandage or gauze pad and tape.
The majority of companies keep the first-aid kit on standby and in a centralized location.
When the wound is small and protected by clothing, the person may decide that leaving it uncovered is best. This may be fine in some instances, but it’s prudent they understand that leaving it uncovered could result in more bleeding if it’s hit.
If a dressing is applied to the wound, it’s important that’s it changed at least once per day to reduce the risk of dirt build-up so an infection can’t set up.
Since it’s a workplace injury, the supervisor or first-aid responder needs to be made aware of the incident. It should also be recorded in the “accident book.” It’s imperative that all workplace injuries get reported no matter how minute the injury.
When To Seek Medical Assistance
When it comes to minor cuts, burns and scrapes, medical assistance is often not needed. However, they still need to be reported to the employer. If the designated first responder isn’t available, medical attention may be required in instances of the following:
- The cut is deep (at least a quarter inch or more), the cut’s edges are jagged, or you can see muscle and/or fat. In these cases, you may need stitches
- It’s a facial wound
- The wound is the result of a dirty or rusty object
- The dirt and debris isn’t completely from the wound
- The wound is the result of a human or animal bite
- The wound area is getting bigger or is numb
- It’s a puncture wound that may need a tetanus shot
Watch For Signs Of Infection
If it appears the wound isn’t healing as it should, it’s time to see the doctor. What signs of infections should you be mindful of?
- Pain increase
- Pus or other leaky fluids from the damaged region
- Warmth, swelling and inflammation
- Red streaks in the region
What Happens During The Healing Process?
Most cuts and scrapes will heal within a week. In the healing process, a scab will form over the area. The scab blocks any dirt and germs from getting into the wound, allowing new skin to form underneath. It’s not uncommon for the area to itch for several days, but it’s highly important not to scratch or pick the scab. Allow the scab to fall for itself – usually when the new skin is ready.
First aid in the workplace is just as important as it is at home. There are many courses that can teach you proper first aid protocols to follow for workplace injuries. Take part in them and become a first-aid responder for your employer.