Protect your hands on the job.
Let’s put a focus on hand injury prevention this month! We use our hands so constantly that we take them for granted. Unfortunately, because we take them for granted, hands and fingers are among the most frequently injured parts of the body. The National Safety Council reports that in a recent year there were 530,000 disabling hand and finger injuries. Most hand and finger injuries fall into these categories:
- Traumatic injuries range from cuts and punctures to broken bones to amputation. Many cuts or punctures are minor, but if they go through the skin they can sever nerves, tendons, or ligaments. They can also get infected.
- Contact injuries are usually skin diseases or burns that can result from direct contact with hot or cold objects, or with chemicals, detergents, or metals.
- Dermatitis. Symptoms like swelling, itching, rash, burning, or blisters can be bad enough to make it impossible for you to work. Dermatitis often shows up immediately after contact with a chemical, but sometimes it takes a while to develop an allergic-type reaction. Once you have this kind of sensitization, you usually can’t get near that chemical again.
Follow these safety basics to protect your hands:
- Follow manufacturer’s and employer’s instructions for using tools and equipment.
- Feed materials into moving machinery with a push stick, not your hands.
- Keep your hands away from moving machine parts.
- Always cut away from your body.
- Store tools so no sharp edges are exposed.
- Use brushes, not hands, to sweep up metal or wood chips.
- Check materials for sharp edges, burrs, splinters, etc., before handling them.
- Make sure you know how hot or cold an object is before handling it.
- Wipe off greasy or slippery objects before handling them.
- Lift an object so your hands are not near the pinch points.
- Put materials down carefully so you don’t mash your fingers.
- Use the right tool for the job and use it correctly.
- Pass tools to other workers, handle first. Never throw tools.