Safety Topic of the Month – May
By Brandy Haynie, VP, HSE
We use our hands for virtually every task we do at work and because of this fact they are commonly injured on the job. Keeping our hands and fingers out of harm’s way at work is critical. A serious injury to an individual’s hands or fingers results in a huge negative impact on their ability to work and overall quality of life. While gloves are the most common form of PPE found in the workplace, hand injuries are still the second leading type of injury on the job.
Hand injuries can result in lasting inability to perform some work tasks, and also with the inability to enjoy certain hobbies and passions. Imagine that if you’re a guitar player, artist, fly tier, or fine woodworker!
At SPG we want all of employees to go home safely to their families every night, and to be able to enjoy life to the fullest.
– Annually, there are 110,000 lost time cases due to hand injuries
– Annually, 1 million workers are treated in an ER for hand injuries
– 70% of workers who experienced a hand injury were not wearing gloves
– A large percentage of the remaining injured employees were wearing their gloves, but they were damaged or inadequate for the task
– The average worker’s compensation hand injury claims exceed $6,000.00 in direct costs. The indirect costs are at least 3 times that.
– The annual hand injury cost to employers in the US is in the billions
Types of Hand Injuries
Lacerations- These are the most common hand injuries and are due to sharp objects or tools. Often inadequate gloves are used during an activity that involves a sharp tool. A glove with Kevlar is effective in protecting the hand against a cutting or slicing motion. A straight stab motion can still easily penetrate these gloves. Caution needs to be used when using any tool that can easily penetrate the skin.
Crush- Usually due to employees placing their hands in the line of fire between two objects or in a rotating piece of equipment. Pinch points on equipment or tools also commonly lead to crush injuries.
Fractures- Occurs when there is a sudden blow to the bones in the fingers or hands.
Safe Work Practices
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 that removes your hands from the line of fire.
Avoid using fixed open blade knives. There are safety knives with blades that retract back into the housing when the blade leaves the cutting surface.
Never put your hand in an area where you cannot see it.
Always wear the proper gloves for whatever work task you are doing. Understand the limitations of your gloves and what work 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 unintentional startup while you are working on the equipment.
Regardless of hand safety protective equipment used, each employee is responsible for performing work in a safe manner.
Every new task should be performed only after a Task Safety Analysis has been developed. Don’t use your hands alone if another tool, jig, or fixture will help steady work for example.