Tetanus is a condition that used to strike fear into anyone who heard its name. Tetanus has the potential to lead to fatal muscle spasms that actually have the potential to break bones. That’s why it’s absolutely important to take care of yourself if you step on anything sharp in the workplace.
Tetanus is caused by bacterial spores that enter the body. The bacteria, called Clostridium tetani, enters the body through the wound, whether that is caused by a rusted nail, a garden tool left on the ground or another sharp object. Some people have suffered tetanus from splinters, animal bites and other injuries on job sites.
What are the symptoms of tetanus?
Tetanus is largely asymptomatic for the first few days or weeks. Once the bacteria begin to build up in the body, you may notice symptoms of tetanus such as:
- Excessive sweating
- Trouble swallowing
- Jerking or staring (potentially seizures)
- Increased blood pressure
- Increased heart rate
- Difficulty swallowing
- Painful body spasms
- Trouble opening the mouth (lockjaw)
- Stiffness in the abdomen
How can employers protect their employees against tetanus?
The tetanus bacteria could be almost anywhere, but the good thing to know is that there are vaccinations to prevent it. Vaccinations are given roughly every 10 years, but if you are cut outside, you may want to get a tetanus shot booster. Every time you have a deep wound, it’s advised to get the booster, even if you’ve recently received the vaccine.
Another thing that can be done is to make employees wear the correct personal protective gear. For example, wearing appropriate footwear can keep your feet protected against cuts and wounds that might occur because of dropping items, stepping on sharp objects or working in the field.
What should you do if you’re cut badly on the job?
If you’re injured inside, the likelihood of tetanus being a problem is minimal, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get a booster or a tetanus shot. Anyone can get tetanus from any deep wound, so it’s smart to seek a tetanus shot if you haven’t had one recently or don’t know the last time you had one. Then, it’s important to follow your medical provider’s orders and keep the wound clean as it heals.
If you do develop this serious and potentially life-threatening disease, you could be looking at time in the hospital as well as many weeks or months of recovery, depending on the severity of the condition. You may want to look into filing for workers’ compensation if that happens.