Workplace Safety

Giving a Hand to Your Safety Training

We all have two hands, two feet, two arms, two legs, two eyes, and two ears. Of these bodily pairs, any can be injured on the job, but hands are particularly vulnerable—and not always easy to protect. Today and tomorrow, we’re taking a look at important hand safety information.

Because the hands and fingers play a role in virtually every task, they are unusually vulnerable to injury. And they are also often taken for granted and not protected as well as they should be.

Yet their distinctive characteristics—strength, flexibility, sensitivity, and coordination—are vital, and hand protection and safety should be a major concern for both employers and workers. That’s why hand safety training is so important.

Hand Hazards

Hands and fingers can be injured in many different ways. For example, they can be:

  • Cut
  • Punctured
  • Scraped
  • Burned
  • Irritated by dermatitis
  • Fractured
  • Crushed or mangled
  • Amputated

Fortunately, almost all hand and finger injuries can be prevented. But it takes engineering controls, personal protective equipment (PPE), lots and lots of training, and daily reinforcement of the hand safety message to protect employees from workplace hand hazards such as:

  • Machines and tools
  • Sharp objects
  • Rough surfaces
  • Hot substances and surfaces
  • Chemicals
  • Electricity
  • Extreme cold

Hand Safety Do’s and Don’ts

Make sure your workers learn and remember these hand safety do’s and don’ts.

Do:

  • Pay attention to where both hands are placed at all times while working, especially when working with machinery.
  • Wear appropriate gloves to protect against particular hazards.
  • Use the right tool for the job, and know how to use tools safely, especially power tools.
  • Stretch your hands and fingers from time to time to give tense and tired muscles and tendons a chance to relax.
  • Protect your hands when working with chemicals, hot substances, sharp objects, and other common workplace hand hazards.

Don’t:

  • Don’t use hands to feed material into machines.
  • Don’t wear gloves, jewelry, or long sleeves around rotating machinery.
  • Don’t use your hands to sweep up wood chips, metal shavings, glass, or other sharp objects.
  • Don’t use strong solvents or gasoline to clean your hands.
  • Don’t operate machinery or power tools under the influence of alcohol or drugs, even some prescription drugs.

In tomorrow’s Advisor, we’ll conduct a “hands-on” exercise.

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