On any worksite with heavy equipment and heavy objects, there’s always the risk of a worker having an accident where a part of their body can be caught and severely crushed. These are called “crush” or “crushing” injuries and can result in catastrophic injuries, including amputation of a limb, or even death.
If you suffer a crush injury on the job, you’re likely covered by workers’ compensation to take care of your medical bills and missed wages. Your Oklahoma City attorneys can tell you more.
What is a crush injury?
Crushing injuries happen when a forceful or tight compression of a body part damages the nerves, blood vessels, bone, muscles, and other tissues. The majority of crush injuries affect the legs, but others affect the arms and hands. Typically, crush injuries are caused by heavy equipment, ranging in seriousness from closing a door on a finger to a heavy piece of machinery falling on a worker’s leg, causing permanent disability.
When damage to a bone and tissue is unsalvageable, a limb will need to be amputated. More minor injuries can be treated without the help of a medical professional, but most crush injuries should get immediate attention, as complications can be common with these types of injuries.
Why crushing injuries are so dangerous
When a crush injury occurs, the compression damages the structures in the cells that pump calcium and potassium and remove sodium, which leads to cell death. This causes muscles to break down and release the protein myoglobin into the blood. The excess myoglobin causes a condition called rhabdomyolysis which, if not treated immediately, can cause:
- Kidney failure
- Toxic shock
Immediate medical attention is necessary to stabilize blood pressure and prevent kidney damage, and often surgery is needed to repair the tissue damage. However, sometimes amputation is the only option. This is why crush injuries are so catastrophic—these injuries can cause long-term or lifetime impact, with chronic and intense pain.
Common causes of crushing injuries
When workers are required to use heavy machinery on the job, their employers must ensure all equipment is regularly maintained and safe to use. Employees also must be provided training on how to operate and maintain the equipment safely.
Crushing injuries in the workplace typically involve:
- Moving parts
- Powered doors
- Falling debris
- Heavy loads being dropped
Crushing injuries in the oil industry
In the oil industry, workers operate heavy machinery and equipment every day. Crush injuries are some of the most common injuries reported on the job. Oil and gas pipes, if unsecured, can roll and injure nearby workers. Many machines have rotating, heavy parts, which could catch onto a worker’s hand or glove. Many pieces must be lifted and hoisted, which could fall or swing onto or into an employee.
At Cunningham & Mears, we are here to help if you’re injured on the job. We’ll talk to you about your accident and if we can’t help you with your claim, we’ll refer you to a trusted workers’ compensation attorney who can. To find out more about how we help injured workers in Oklahoma City, contact us today. For a free consultation at our offices, call 405-232-1212 or fill out our contact form today.