New Braunfels, TX, August 16, 2023
We use our hands for virtually every task we do at work, and because of this fact, they are commonly injured on the job. Keeping our hands and fingers out of harm’s way at work is critical. A serious injury to an individual’s hands or fingers results in a huge negative impact on their ability to work and overall quality of life. While gloves are the most common form of PPE found in the workplace, hand injuries are still the second leading type of injury on the job. Approximately 1 million workers are treated in an ER for hand injuries annually. Here at Ontivity 27% of our injuries in 2023 have been related to workers hands with 60% of those injuries being a laceration to the hand or finger. Today we will discuss 3 key points aimed at raising awareness and preventing hand injuries. Those 3 key points are:
- Know the 3 most common hand injuries
- Exercise safe work practices to protect your hands
- Use PPE to prevent hand injuries
KNOW THE 3 MOST COMMON HAND INJURIES
Knowing is everything! When we know something, we can take the necessary steps for prevention. This first key point is intended to help bring you into the know of the most common types of hand injuries. Our hands are exposed to many types of potential injuries but 3 standout amongst the others. Those are lacerations, crush injuries, and fractures. Lacerations are at the top of the list, and it really shouldn’t shock anyone. On a daily basis we are cutting something, whether it is opening a box, or color-coding tape sharp objects are a part of our daily routine. We can’t forget that nasty little metal burr lurking on the backside of that pipe that can really do some damage too. Crush injuries run a close second on the list based on the amount of steel we handle day in and day out. If you are not careful where you place your hands when installing tower sections, removing antenna mounts, and loading material your hands can suffer the consequences. Fractures are the third most common hand injury and could actually be a severe result of a crushing injury. Fractures often take a long time to heal and are definitely not fun to deal with, especially when you get that itch with a cast on. In some cases, fractures could even occur when someone tries to brace themselves during a fall.
EXERCISE SAFE WORK PRACTICES TO PROTECT YOUR HANDS
Using the right tool and methods are key to preventing hand injuries both at work and home. When feasible try to use tools that will remove your hands from the line of fire. For example, use a push stick when operating a table saw to keep your hands safe from injury. To avoid crushing injuries never put your hand in an area where you cannot see it. Especially when heavy steel is moving around. You should always remain focused when cutting anything to avoid hand injuries. Never look away or try to multi-task when cutting. Make sure you cut away from you and never towards you or anyone else. Using the right type of cutting tool is also key. No, a razor knife is not the right tool to cut zip ties, grab a pair of flush cuts to do that. Never use a dull blade to cut anything. Dull blades require more force to cut and actually significantly increase chances of lacerations. If at all possible, avoid using fixed open-blade knives to cut. These types of knives are one of the main culprits for lacerations to hands and fingers. Instead choose to use a knife with built-in safety features. Knives that limit the length of the blade exposed or automatically retract when pressure is let off the handle should be the knife of choice.
USE PPE TO PREVENT HAND INJURIES
All too often inadequate gloves are used during an activity that involves a sharp tool. Just about 70% of workers who experienced a hand injury were not wearing gloves, used inadequate types of gloves, or were wearing old and worn-out gloves. Always wear the proper gloves for whatever work task you are doing, inspect them before using, and ask for a new pair when yours become worn-out. Understand the limitations of your gloves and what work tasks they are appropriate for. An ANSI rated cut resistant glove with a rating of A2 or higher is an effective way to protect your hands and fingers against a cutting or slicing motion. When trying to prevent a crushing injury, you should consider using a glove with crush resistance pads. If you are doing any type of rope work, you should choose leather gloves or gloves with reinforced finger crotches. There are many options when it comes to gloves that offer multiple types of protection, please consult with the safety team if you need help choosing gloves that offer you the most protection available.
Hand injuries are preventable, but it takes work and collaboration to rid them from our work environment. The use of correct safety procedures, work practices, and PPE tremendously improve our chances of ridding our workplace of these types of injuries. Add in increased awareness, focus, and accountability at work and these injuries can be totally eliminated.
If you would like more information on this topic or any other safety-related topic, please reach out to the Ontivity safety team at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will get you taken care of.