The Basics of Hand Safety
Did you know that the hand is the second most common body part to be injured in a workplace accident?
Most of the injuries happen in manufacturing, construction, and oil and gas.
Most hand injuries that are sustained in the workplace and at home are preventable.
By providing effective hand safety training and proper protective equipment are two of the important factors that need to be considered in preventing these injuries.
The Basics of Hand Safety
These are the 5 basic steps that should be implemented in any hand safety program to keep your workers safe.
1. Worker Awareness:
Workers need to be alert and present at work. Like we pointed out in our blog “Is Job Rotation the Cure to Workplace Boredom (and Injury)?” work that seems routine can be the most dangerous.
Workers who are set in a routine can become complacent and less aware of the hazards around them.
Whether it’s the knife they’re using for hours at a time or the hammer they’re swinging day in, day out.
Increasing worker awareness can reduce all forms of workplace injuries, not just hand and arm related.
2. Job Hazard Analysis:
The first thing that we recommend is to complete a job hazard analysis, which follows the steps of the Hierarchy of Safety Controls.
This is a simple way to minimize exposure to hazards in the workplace through six steps, with elimination being the most effective and personal protective equipment (PPE) as the least expensive.
A job hazard analysis will identify key areas in your business where accidents are happening or have the potential to happen.
Once any problem areas have been identified, look for ways to eliminate the hazards by:
- Modifying the machinery used
- Install guards or buffers to prevent hands from being put in harm’s way
- Isolate hazards
- Look for alternate materials that will eliminate the danger
Once those steps have been taken, you can start looking for PPE like gloves and sleeves to prevent any other potential hazards that couldn’t be addressed through the first five steps of the hierarchy.
3. Proper Gloves and Hand Protection:
It may be possible to eliminate many of the hazards on the job.
When you cannot eliminate them all, care must be taken to protect the hands as much as possible from exposure to hazards.
Safety engineers must be careful to choose the proper gloves based on the job hazards.
Improper selection could prove more dangerous than the actual hazard itself.
For example, a worker in utilities or electrical wearing gloves that are cut resistant but don’t provide arc flash protection. In a case where an electrical overload causes extreme temperatures, gloves not capable of handling that could end up melting and causing more severe burns than the electrical heat to begin with.
Knowing what protections a glove offer can help when choosing the proper hand protection.
We manufacturer a large variety of gloves that protect from cuts, hypodermic needles, metacarpal injuries, chemicals and heat.
Use our Glove Selector tool to find your perfect pair.
4. Proper Training:
Once the job hazards have been identified and hand protection selected, users must be trained on proper procedures to prevent injuries.
Training should focus on equipment use and limitations, as well as proper usage of the gloves.
Make sure training focuses on what the gloves are capable of protecting against as well as what they are not.
I.e. if you’re supplying your workers with a low cut glove (level A2 or A3), they need to understand that a glove with that level of cut protection will not prevent serious injuries from sharp knives or metal. Learn what other mistakes you could be making with cut-resistant gloves here.
Make sure your employees know when a glove is damaged and needs to be replaced.
5. Proper Handling and Care of Gloves:
Gloves that are stored improperly, cleaned improperly or even put away damaged can be potential sources of injury.
Make sure workers are aware of what proper equipment looks like, as well as what to do with their hand protection when they are finished with it.
Want our help in this process?
Sign up for the Advocate Hand Protection Program today!