Protecting your fingers and hands is important for your work and quality of life. Work-related hand injuries are one of the leading reasons workers end up in the emergency room and miss work. Damage to the nerves in your fingers and hands, loss of a finger, a skin burn, or allergic reaction, can negatively impact the quality of your work, your productivity – or worse – end your career, and seriously detract from your quality of life.
When you think about it, the hand is actually your most commonly-used tool. Keep your hands protected so they serve you for a lifetime of use!
These Free Safety Decals and labels are available for you to download and use for support the poster designs, or for an in-house program, you are running to help keep your workplace hand injures free.
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Follow the following rules to keep your hand safe
- Always stay alert and focused on keeping your hands safe – not just at the start of work or a task.
- Keep guards on machinery and power tools in place – Don’t remove or reposition them.
- Use tools and equipment designed for the work being performed and use them as instructed by the manufacturer.
- Don’t put your hands or fingers near the moving parts of a power tool or equipment. Make sure machinery, equipment, and power tools are completely off before you try replacing, cleaning, or repairing parts – follow lock-out/tag-out procedures.
- Identify safety features on tools and equipment before you use them, such as emergency off switches.
- Check tools and equipment to make sure they are in proper working order before beginning a task.
- Keep hands and fingers away from sharp edges (blades, protruding nails, etc.). Never cut toward the palm of your hand.
- Select hand tools that are ergonomic for your hand (the right size, lowest weight, and have features such as grips, anti-vibration handles, handles angles that allow you to work without your wrist bent.)
- Wear gloves that fit your hand and are right for the work being performed
5 Ways to Keep Hands Safe at Work
There is 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:
These gloves provide protection against burns and flammable surfaces.
These are commonly used when working with knives. They prevent punctures and cuts to the hands.
Thicker non-conductive gloves are worn by electricians to protect themselves against low-voltage electricity.
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.
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.
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