In California, degloving injuries to workers are most often seen in industrial settings. One relatively common incident is the degloving of a hand and/or forearm when the upper extremity is caught in a machine that is not guarded by appropriate protective devices. A work accident of that kind can cause serious and debilitating injury to the worker, and may provide the worker with more than one source of compensation for his or her losses.
A degloving injury occurs when the hand is caught in a machine that operates like a conveyor belt. The hand is caught in the mechanism and pulled at the same time that the worker is pulling on the hand in the other direction to try and extricate it. The traumatic incident results in the removal of the skin and subcutaneous tissue to one or more fingers and possibly all or part of the hand.
A degloving injury occurred to an Ohio worker recently at a plastic extrusion manufacturing facility. The 31-year-old man was feeding a piece of plastic into a puller machine when the hand got caught and was pulled in with the plastic. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency generally responsible for investigating and regulating such industrial accidents, these kinds of accidents are preventable. The agency’s spokesperson stated that companies must install machine guards and train workers in safety procedures.
OSHA inspectors reportedly discovered that the machine had been operating for a year prior to the work accident without the proper guarding mechanism being installed. The worker is entitled to collect statutory lost wages for the total period of the disability, along with payment of all medical expenses. Where complex surgery and/or rehabilitative services are required to treat the worker, the employer’s workers’ compensation carrier must pay the prescribed benefits pursuant to California law and the law in all other states. If there is a defective product issue regarding the machine, a third party product liability claim may also be a possibility.