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WH&S - Open wounds

10 Jan 2012

We would like to draw your attention to open wounds which make up more than a quarter of workplace injuries.

Be conservative and take as many precautions as you can to avoid injury. Concentration is a big factor. The risk of injury increases with the number of hours worked with those who start work before 7am or finish after 7pm being more likely to be injured. Education around proper use of equipment and not becoming complacent (too casual) with tasks that you may be familiar with are also paramount.

When there is an incident involving a less severe open wound, report the incident, ask for assistance and use the first aid kit. 

To prevent infection disposable latex gloves should be worn whenever contact with open wounds is possible. Every wound that breaks the skin should be cleaned and covered, at the first possible opportunity. Follow the tips below:

  • Wash the wound in clean running water
  • Clean the wound with disposable cleaning swabs
  • Carefully dry the wound and the surrounding skin using sterile, gauze pieces
  • Suitable antiseptic may be used on and around the wound
  • Cover the wound with an appropriate sized sterile dressing
  • Use a cotton bandage, fastened with adhesive tape or a safety pin to hold the dressing in place.

Deep wounds, larger lacerations and wounds that become red and throb should be covered with sterile dressings and promptly referred to either a health professional (e.g. a doctor or nurse) or the hospital emergency department. Tetanus immunisation may be necessary. Do not touch the wound or any part of the sterile dressing that will be in contact with the wound. 

Sources: www.talkingsafety.org, National Occupational Health & Safety Commission,1995. The Cost of Work-related Injury and Disease. Statistics Summaries Issue 95007 paper.

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