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High-Fives: Classic Celebration or Dangerous Hand Dance?

by Julie on July 12, 2016

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A perfect high five

Don’t leave me hanging.
Two hands meet mid-air in a brief moment of glorious unanimity. Maybe it’s over an epic win. Or maybe it’s just because it’s Thursday. The important thing isn’t the reason, but the execution. Landing the perfect high-five is like magic. But is there anything more cringeworthy than a failed attempt?

How difficult could a high-five really be? Well, actually, it’s not the safest undertaking for the coordination-impaired. It’s like clapping in time to the music: some people should never even try. Wounds can range from skinned pride and bruised thumbs to broken collarbones.

The Stupidity of Your Actions is Directly Related to Who is Watching

Nobody reports on the number of brilliantly completed high-fives. But, the moment someone enters that awkward, slowly deteriorating dance of a high-five gone horribly wrong, it’s like a shot heard ’round the world. Even better, the worse the execution, the more people will likely be watching in person. They’ll probably also be laughing, wincing, or both.

What working conditions increase the odds of a blunder? It could be a number of things. Some folks just don’t participate. Ever. They’ll look at the hapless high-five with confusion as if they’re not quite sure what to do. Some are easily distracted and don’t know what’s happened until it’s too late. For safety’s sake, never attempt to high-five someone whose attention is divided.


Nailed it!
Realizing Those Perfect High-Five Moments

You never know when the right moment for a high-five will present itself. Although ESPN essentially guarantees that the practice evolved on a baseball field, or maybe a basketball court . . . or the Vietnam War, or perhaps even as far back as WWII, nowadays, they can happen anywhere and at any time. An upper management business meeting is as likely of a setting as a break room as a basketball court. Preparation and practice are key elements of high-five safety and effectiveness.

Here are some general guidelines:

#1: Ensure your high-five partner is aware of your intent. Make eye contact. Failed execution is often rooted in obliviousness. Only declare your intentions verbally as a last resort. That’s really uncool.

#2: Raise your arm with your palm facing out, and don’t bend your fingers. Why? Because accidents happen when people bend their fingers. Tip: Cupping your hand slightly produces a louder clap.

#3: Be cool. There’s hardly anything worse than an overenthusiastic attempt. And, there’s no space on a worker’s compensation injury report for “failed high-five.”

#4: Aim for the elbow. Aiming for the hand is where a lot of high-fives crash and burn. It’s simple geometry: if you aim for the hand, you’re more likely to catch air. Or the other person’s shoulder. (See #3.)

#5: Rely on a good sense of timing. Or, realize when you’re in over your head. The classic redirect of running your fingers through your hair is still a possibility.

#6: Consider donning appropriate protective gear.

Our Q5VSB: Clutch Gear® High Dexterity Anti-Impact Gloves won’t restrict your movement, and will protect your hands against dangerous high-five impact injuries. They even have a Kevlar® palm for excellent ANSI level A4 cut resistance. You can never be too safe!

These are the 21st-century casual handshakes. Done well, you’ll come out looking slick and sophisticated. Done poorly, you could wind up with a broken shoulder like German dirt bike star, Erik Riss. (You wouldn’t want someone to tag-out your hands because they’re defective and pose a risk to your co-workers, right?)

Sadly, many industries are lacking in safe high-five procedures, so you’ll have to look out for yourself and those around you. Stay aware of your surroundings, wear proper PPE as needed, and never attempt a high-five unless you know that it’s safe to proceed.
When in doubt, just smile and nod. It’ll allow you to stay safe for work another day.

To find the pair of high-five worthy gloves that are right for your workplace, browse our selection of impact-resistant gloves.


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