Preventing Hand Injuries in a Dangerous Workplace
The most used tool on any job site is the human hand — which means they are susceptible to severe injuries. These injuries are more likely to occur at jobs where workers are required to use hand or power tools and heavy equipment — industrial and construction environments. Most are less likely to occur in workplaces like offices. But don’t make the mistake of becoming complacent because you’re in an environment that’s perceived as “less risky.” Office workers who regularly use a computer are at risk for hand and wrist overuse injuries. Trips and falls are common in any workplace; they are one of the most common causes of injury year over year.
Common hand and finger injuries are:
Lacerations and punctures are often caused by cutting tools.
Punctures, cuts or lacerations are caused by contact with sharp, spiked or jagged edges on equipment, tools or materials.
Crushes, smashes, pinches, fractures or amputations may be caused by contact with hammers, manhole lids, gears, belts, wheels and rollers, falling objects or other machinery.
Strains, sprains, avulsions, detachments, and other musculoskeletal injuries caused by using the wrong tool for the job, or one that is too big, small or heavy for your hand.
Abrasions and burns caused by direct contact with a hot surface or a chemical.
Rashes and other skin disorders caused by direct contact with chemicals in products and materials.
Impact from trips and falls.
There are three primary steps to preventing hand injuries that will help in any workplace: PPE, awareness, and training. Most hand injuries are the result of not wearing gloves or of wearing the wrong gloves for the job. Make sure you have access to quality gloves that fit well and are right for the task. Establish a zero-tolerance policy for overlooking this safety protocol.
Choose gloves that are designed to protect against specific hazards of a job being performed. Types range from common canvas work gloves to highly-specialized gloves used in specific industries. Rubber, vinyl, or neoprene gloves are used when handling fuels, lubricants, acids, cleansers, and concrete. Leather gloves or leather reinforced with metal stitching useful for handling rough or abrasive materials. Flexible knit rubber palm gloves for grip, comfort, and general use.
Safety tips to keep hands safe:
Be aware of the job tasks, equipment and materials that can create a risk for a hand injury or put your skin in contact with a chemical. Know the steps that should be taken to prevent exposures and injuries.
Always stay alert and focused on keeping your hands safe, not just at the start of work or a task.
Don’t put your hands or fingers near the moving parts of a power tool or equipment. Make sure machinery, equipment and power tools are completely off before you try replacing, cleaning or repairing parts. Follow lock-out/tag-out procedures.
Identify safety features on tools and equipment before you use them, such as emergency off switches.
Keep hands and fingers away from sharp edges (blades, protruding nails, etc.). Never cut toward yourself.
Select hand tools that are ergonomic for your hand w/ the right size, low weight, and as grip.
Wear gloves that fit your hand and are right for the work being performed.
Do not wear rings, other jewelry or loose articles of clothing that could get caught on a moving object.
Your hands are invaluable in you work life and personal life, it is important to keep them safe!