Hand Safety and Injury Prevention Safety Talk
Your hands are used for virtually every task you perform at work and at home, and because they are used so much they are often easily injured. It is critical that you keep your fingers and hands out of the way at work and keep them from getting injured. A serious injury to your fingers or hands can result in a negative impact on your ability to work and your quality of life. Gloves are the most common type of personal protective equipment to help with the prevention of hand injuries.
Hand Injury Statistics
Hand injuries on a construction job site are very common and they are the second leading type of injury in the workplace. Over 1 million workers are treated in the Emergency Room annually for hand injuries. This results in over 100,000 lost time cases for employers. Of those treated for hand injuries, 70% were not wearing gloves to even try to protect themselves. Another 30% of the victims had gloves on but the gloves did not protect them because they were damaged or they were inadequate for the task they were doing. Hand injuries are far too common in the construction workforce and some can easily be avoided if the right safety precautions were taken by employees and workers.
Common Causes of Hand Injuries
Hand injuries are associated with working with machinery or equipment, but the materials being used or the job process might also be hazardous. You should also take into consideration that hand tools could be faulty or not used correctly. The most common cause of hand injuries are:
Lack of awareness
Disregard for safety procedures
Common Hand Injuries
There are three common types of hand injuries on a construction job site:
Lacerations are the most common type of hand injuries and are a tearing of the skin that results in an irregular wound. They are often caused by sharp objects or tools. In most cases the tissue injury is minimal and infections are uncommon. But a laceration can result in a more serious injury.
Often lacerations are due to the fact that a worker is not wearing proper hand protection like gloves, or they are wearing gloves that are inadequate for the task they are doing. If you are performing a task where you have the potential to get cut or injured, you should always wear kevlar gloves as these can protect the hand against a cutting or slicing motion. A straight stab motion can penetrate these gloves though. It is important that you use caution when you are operating any tool that can easily penetrate the skin and cause injury.
Crush injuries are usually due to the fact that a worker has placed their hands in the line of fire between two objects or in a rotating piece of equipment. Pinch points are defined as any point where it is possible for a body part to be caught between moving and stationary portions of equipment. Pinch points on equipment or tools also are common places for a crush injury to happen.
A fracture injury can occur when there is a sudden blow to the bones in the fingers or the hands. Often a fracture of the hand is caused by a fall. However, workers can also suffer a fracture because of falling objects, machinery accidents, explosions, malfunctioning power tools, and other hazards at a worksite. Fractures can range in severity from minor to severe and are sorted into two major classes: simple and compound fractures.
Simple fractures are also called closed fractures are broken bones that remain within the body and do not penetrate the skin. Compound fractures are also called open fractures and are broken bones that penetrate through the skin and expose the bone and deep tissues to the exterior environment. In a construction accident often a worker suffers more than just one broken bone and could have several fractures in the hand.
Other Hand Injuries
Construction work can be hard and everyone knows it is full of job site hazards. Other common types of hand and finger injuries at construction sites include:
If you experience any type of injury it is important that you let your coworkers and your supervisor or foreman know as soon as possible.
Hand Protection Best Practices
You can not possibly prevent every injury that could happen on a job site or know when the injury is going to happen. You should however be prepared and know some safe work practices that can keep you and your coworkers safe.
Use tools to remove your hands from the line of fire when doing a work task that could result in injury to your hands or fingers. Using tools such as push sticks when using a table saw is an example of how you can remove your hands from the line of fire.
Avoid using fixed open blade knives. Always use a safety knife that limits the amount of blade that is exposed as well as has a safety feature that can retract the blade when pressure is let off the handle.
Never put your hand in an area where you can not see it.
Always wear the proper hand protection for the task you are doing. Understand the limitations of your gloves and what tasks they are appropriate for.
Never work on an energized piece of equipment. Lock and tag out the equipment to ensure there will not be an unintentional start-up while you are working on that piece of equipment.
If you are injured on a job site, you should report your hand injury to your supervisor or foreman as soon as possible. If you need to seek medical help also make sure you do so immediately. If you have questions about safety hazards or how to perform a task safely do not be afraid to speak up and ask questions. It is your job to keep yourself safe as well as others that are on the job site. Working together to be safe can keep everyone safe.
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