Your hands are hugely important in everyday life and you need to do everything you can to protect them. If you work in a job involving manual labor, you particularly rely on them for your livelihood. Without fully functioning hands, many job tasks become much more difficult or even impossible.
This is why workers should always do everything they can to look after their hands. Not only does this mean wearing gloves as part of their personal protective equipment, but also selecting the right gloves for the job they do. Otherwise, it can have a huge negative impact on their overall quality of life.
For a business, losing days of work to a serious injury not only contributes to your LTIR rate but can also hold up projects and cut into profits, too. When so many hand injuries are preventable, it makes sense to see hand safety as a priority in the workplace.
Cuts and lacerations in an individual’s hands can be caused by blades on hand tools, clutter or debris, handling sharp materials such as metal or glass, or poor condition of tools which leads to cracks.
Heavy objects falling on the hand or being trapped in a door or mechanism.
Avulsions or Detachments
When the surface layer of skin is peeled away from the body part, usually as a result of a machinery-related incident.
External injuries that break the skin, often as a result of a sharp object entering the hand. It might be nails, chisels, a screwdriver, a pin, a shard of glass, or the blade or attachment from a tool. It could be through your fingers or the palm of your hand.
Can come as a result of a fall from height or blunt trauma from impacts with machinery or other equipment, such as a hammer.
Other types of injuries occurring to hands include:
Burns – Can be a result of thermal burns (flames, steam, hot surfaces, etc.), chemical burns, or electrical injuries.
Strains – Repetitive strain injury comes as a result of hands constantly repeating the same movements throughout shifts. These are often found in those who endure vibration on their job.
Sprains – Often caused by slips, trips, and falls.
Hand Safety Toolbox Talk Download
Encouraging a strong safety culture in the workplace is important for the wellbeing of everyone involved, and regular toolbox talks are one way of helping to achieve that.
Take a look at this hand safety toolbox talk. You can download it and use it in your safety briefings to bring your workforce up to speed on hand safety in the workplace:
Workplace hand injuries are preventable, and by following best practices, you can definitely reduce them in your business.
OSHA requires employers to supply and employees to wear appropriate PPE for their tasks. This hand protection includes gloves and, importantly, the correct gloves for each job. As cited earlier, 70% of workers who suffered hand injuries were not wearing gloves, and the remaining 30% reported that their gloves were inadequate.
In addition to wearing PPE, it is important to make sure employees are wearing the right kind of PPE. A glove check before starting a shift is a good way of inspiring workers to really think about what they are going to be doing and how best to protect themselves. Do they simply need cotton gloves to protect themselves from minor abrasions, or do they need chemical-resistant gloves for handling hazardous materials?
You should also think about the other items of clothing that workers wear. Loose sleeves and jewelry can become caught in machinery and pull their hands in or tear the skin.
Workers should always be alert about where they place both hands during their shift, even if they are only using one for the main work task. Resting a hand in the wrong place could lead to an accident and injury. Make sure you keep it out of harm’s way.
Full Training on Using Equipment
Some hand injuries come as a result of the worker misusing a tool or other piece of equipment. It is important that every employee has full training for every piece of equipment, especially power tools, they use to prevent injuries occurring this way.
Employ Good Ergonomics
Some strain injuries are caused by bad ergonomics, so improving the design of workstations can prevent some hand injuries for workers.
Doing hand exercises can strengthen the muscles and make the wrists and fingers more flexible. This can guard against injuries from repetitive strain and when using heavy equipment and tools.
Bonus: Preventing Hand Injuries: Rules of Thumb
Here are some simple but effective ways of protecting your hands at work:
Don’t put your hands anywhere without looking first. Whether it’s a machine or a desk drawer, if you can’t see what is inside, don’t put your hand there!
Don’t take off guards from machines. Machine guards and other safety features are there for a very good reason — protection.
Don’t wear loose sleeves or jewelry around machinery.
Don’t use your hands to push material into a machine or sweep up dirt. You never know what is in there!
Don’t place your hands where there is a potential pinch point.
Don’t put your hands in machinery to perform maintenance, repair, or cleaning until it is switched off, in most cases using the required LOTO procedures.
Don’t rush your work. Take your time.
Don’t risk an action that you know to be dangerous, thinking you will get away with it.
Don’t use tools for anything other than what they were designed to do.
How can hand injuries be prevented?
You can prevent hand injuries by providing correct PPE, ensuring workers wear it and undertaking thorough training with staff. They should understand the hazards and dangers of hand injuries, as well as the best practices for avoiding them. This is the best way to avoid injuries and potential amputations.
What is considered a pinch point?
According to OSHA, a pinch point, also known as a nip point, is the area in which a part of the body can become caught between parts of a piece of machinery.
Hand injuries are preventable, but it takes work and collaboration to rid them from the work environment. With the correct safety procedures, training and work practices, the right PPE, and an awareness and focus at work, there could be far fewer of these incidents every year. One great way to start fighting back against them is to give a regular hand safety toolbox talk and ensure that workers have all the facts they need before they complete their tasks on the job site.