Regardless of the amount of safety training and precautions you take as a company, at some point in time an accident will happen. When that accident does occur, do your employees know the proper way to react?
This article will focus on the treatment and identification of cuts and
lacerations that are constantly ranked as the most common workplace injuries.
Typical causes of these lacerations include improper training, lack of
established safety procedures, employees in a hurry, taking short cuts or not
following safety procedures, failure to wear cut-resistant gloves or wearing
improper gloves for a job, missing or improperly adjusted guarding, poor
housekeeping, poor lighting and more.
IDENTIFYING THE TYPE OF WOUND
A bleeding wound is typically one of the four varieties:
Abrasion: An abrasion is a wound that is caused by friction. Signs of a
friction wound are typically missing skin and minimal bleeding. These wounds
are typically of a minor nature.
Cut: A cut refers to a wound in which there is separation of the tissue. Unlike
an abrasion, none of the skin is missing. A cut is a wound caused by a sharp
object. These wounds can vary from minor to serious.
Laceration: A laceration is a torn or jagged wound. The typical cause of a
laceration includes a blunt trauma (such as a blow, fall or collision). Cuts
and lacerations can be grouped in the same category and the terms are often
Avulsion: An avulsion is wound where tissue is not just separated but torn away
from the body. These wounds are typically serious in
DETERMING TYPE OF BLEEDING
Capillary bleeding: This type of bleeding is caused typically by abrasion
wounds. The wound opens tiny capillaries just below the skin’s surface.
Capillary bleeding usually slows or stops before any serious blood loss can
Venous bleeding: This form of bleeding is caused from deeper wounds to the
tissue puncture veins. It is characterized by blood that is dark red in color
and slowly exits the body. This type of bleeding is typically not
Arterial bleeding: This type of bleeding is caused by the laceration of an
artery. It is characterized by spurting blood that is bright red in color.
Arterial bleeding is the most difficult type of blood loss to control. Even a
small, but deep, arterial puncture wound can cause the loss of life. Seek
medical help immediately if this type of bleeding is
When an employee suffers a cut, it is important to treat the wound immediately.
The first part of treatment is to stop the bleeding.
To stop bleeding, put pressure directly on the wound with sterile gauze or
other bandages. This, coupled with elevating the wound above heart level,
should stop the bleeding within 15 minutes. If the bleeding won’t stop after 15
minutes, try to use the pressure point nearest the wound and call for emergency
medical help immediately.
(Common pressure points: Arm between shoulder and elbow-the brachial artery;
groin area along bikini line-femoral artery; behind the knee-popliteal
CLEAN THE WOUND
Once bleeding has stopped, clean the wound by washing the adjacent skin with
soap and water, and removing crusted blood with diluted hydrogen peroxide.
Next, irrigate the wound by squirting a saline solution into the wound. This is
a highly effective way to reduce the potential for bacterial infection. If
bleeding starts during the treatment, reapply pressure.
After cleaning the wound, it is important to properly bandage it to prevent infection.
To do this, apply an antibiotic cream to the inside of the material being used
as the dressing. Next, cover the wound with the dressing. The dressing should
extend beyond the wound by about 1/2 inch so that it covers the wound
completely and allows room to affix the dressing to uninjured
Once the dressing is on the wound, cut four strips of athletic tape and use
them to attach the dressing to the skin. If there is a risk that the wound will
be exposed to water, cover the bandage with waterproof material, such as
waterproof tape or plastic.
A VISIT TO THE ER?
Use these questions to evaluate if you need to send an injured employee to the
Can you stop the bleeding?
Are the wound edges separated?
Can you adequately clean the wound?
Is it possible that serious underlying damage was done (such as a cut nerve or
Has the employee had a tetanus shot in the past 10 years?
For a free documentable safety meeting on first aid for lacerations, e-mail
On the Safe Side: First Aid
December 1, 2011