Hand Injury Prevention: 5 Ways to Keep Hands Safe at Work

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Manual Utility Knife

Hand injury prevention techniques are essential in high-risk workplaces. It’s paramount that your workers take extra care of their bodies when working with dangerous tools. According to a 2012 hand injury prevention training PPT by Telcom Insurance Group, 75 percent of U.S. industrial injuries that cause partial disability involve hands. In addition, over 16 million Americans seek medical care for hand injuries annually. Not only that, but every 32 seconds there’s a hand injury at work. Those are worrying statistics.

There are a myriad of ways to protect hands in the workplace. Let’s take a look at five hand injury prevention tips to put into practice.

1) Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Donning personal protective equipment (PPE) is a great way to stay safe at work. To protect working hands, wearing proper gloves is a necessity. As stated in an article on Vivid Learning Systems, there are several types of gloves that protect against a wide variety of potential risks:

-Heat Resistant

These gloves provide protection against burns and flammable surfaces.

-Cut Resistant

These are commonly used when working with knives. They prevent punctures and cuts to the hands.

-Non-Conductive

Thicker non-conductive gloves are worn by electricians to protect themselves against low-voltage electricity.

-Chemical Gloves

These gloves provide much-needed protection against solvents, acids, oils, and caustic materials. Neoprene, nitrile, latex, and vinyl are all examples of materials that offer chemical protection.

2) Implement Engineering Controls

Engineering controls are another way of ensuring safety in high-risk work environments. Oftentimes, physical safety guards are put into place. These are built into machines with the objective of protecting a worker’s hands from pinch points, rotating parts, and sharp objects. In addition, man-made ergonomic engineering controls are designed to put less strain on wrists, fingers, and hands.

Moreover, engineering controls are important when it comes to hand safety in the workplace. Sensors, light beams, and switches are perfect for ensuring that a worker’s hands aren’t in close proximity to dangerous equipment.

3) Utilize Administrative Controls

Administrative controls come in handy when it’s impossible to safely implement engineering controls. It’s vital that you introduce proper hand injury prevention training to your team. Some examples of administrative controls include:

  • Safety training
  • Warning signs
  • Lock and tag rules
  • Product substitution
  • Designing with ergonomic principles

4) Solid Safety Training

Now let’s expand on effective safety training. Making sure your employees are properly and thoroughly trained when it comes to protecting their hands is crucial. In addition, having hand and finger injury prevention campaign materials readily available for your workers is a must.

Firstly, you want to ensure that workers are aware of the equipment/tools around them and how to use them correctly. In addition, make sure they put that training into action; don’t just verbally “walk them through” the process. Humans tend to learn best by actively performing a task as opposed to merely listening to step-by-step instructions.

Secondly, give your employees high-performance safety tools, such as finger-friendly® cutting tools. Safer tools can make a difference between a safe workplace and a hazardous one.

YouTube account Safety Memos uploaded an informational video a few years ago on how to protect your hands at work. You can watch it below:

5) Keep the Work Environment Clean and Hazard-Free

Something most people don’t consider is that a lot of hand injuries can involve your feet. How so? Via slipping on wet surfaces or tripping over objects strewn about the floor. How do you instinctively catch yourself when falling? With your hands. Falls can lead to significant hand and wrist injuries.

So, it’s important to maintain a clean, hazard-free workplace. Keep all surfaces free of spillage, especially floors. Remove potentially trip-inducing objects from walkways, such as brooms and jutting equipment. Ensure knives are properly stored with blades facing away from hands or other body parts susceptible to injury. Lastly, exercise caution in small spaces with multiple people.

If you keep these hand injury prevention tips in mind while at work, you and your employees will be all the safer for it.

Download our Safe Cutting Paper to reduce workplace injuries

Topics: Hand Safety, Safety Tools and Equipment, PPE

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