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Last updated: June 29, 2019

What Does Abrasion Mean?

An abrasion is a wound or superficial damage to the skin, caused by the wearing down, rubbing away or removal of the superficial layers of skin (up to epidermis) or mucous membrane of a specific area. It may cause little or no bleeding (grazes or scrapes) and is less damaging than a laceration. A more severe abrasion, referred to as an avulsion, may cause bleeding by damaging all the three layers of the skin up to the subcutaneous layer.

Safeopedia Explains Abrasion

Abrasion injuries generally occur when exposed skin comes into contact with rough surfaces, which might include:

  • A rough surface (walls, doors, machines, working tools or instruments) in relative motion with the skin
  • A spinning grinding stone or other rough surfaces of a rotary machine or tool
  • Impacts with floors, playing instruments or fabrics during sports activities
  • Any rough surface during a slip, trip or fall in the workplace

There are three degrees of abrasions:

  • First degree abrasion - occurs at the epidermal layer of the skin. It does not normally bleed, but mucous is seen on the abraised area
  • Second degree abrasion - occurs at the epidermis and dermis level and may bleed slightly
  • Third degree abrasion - occurs up to the subcutaneous layer through the epidermis and dermis, and is most commonly known as an avulsion

Causes of abrasions in the workplace may be prevented by implementing preventitive measures including:

  • Risk assessment for such dangers at work
  • Removing or reducing the causes of abrasion risks
  • Use of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Safety training
  • Administrative control by isolating, guarding, limiting the access, control and posting warning notices

First aid for abrasions in the workplace includes:

  • Cleaning the wound with clean water
  • Application of an antiseptic solution or cream to the effected area
  • Covering the cleaned wound with a sterile dressing
  • In cases of bleeding, apply pressure directly to the wound to stop the blood flow
  • If the wound continues to bleed, seek appropriate medical assistance

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