Hand injuries are a common hazard in the workplace.
According to the U.S Bureau of Labor Statistics, the hands are one of the most common parts of the body to be injured in the workplace. Industrial and manufacturing facilities deal with these injuries more often than any other industry, but workers in any industry can have them.
Being familiar with and following hand safety procedures can help keep your hands and fingers safe on the job. Below we’ll go over ten important tips for staying safe and the ways you can improve your safety. In addition to these hand-specific safety tips, we also have a more general safety tips article to help keep employees safe at work.
Table of Contents
The most common types of hand injuries are lacerations, crushes, and avulsions or detachments. Work-related hand injuries are one of the top reasons employees go to the emergency room. Injuries like damage to the nerves in fingers and hands, loss of a finger, or a skin burn make it difficult or impossible to work.
To keep workers safe, they need to be trained in workplace safety.
Personal Protective Equipment
Almost all injuries can be prevented, but it requires personal protective equipment (PPE), engineering controls, and regular reinforcement to protect employees from potential hazards in the work environment.
PPE is crucial for safety. Hands are exposed to many hazards, including sharp or moving machinery, small spaces, and dangerous environmental contact resulting in pain and damage.
The International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) offers many tools to help enforce hand injury protection.
What Are the 10 Hand Safety Tips You Should Know?
Knowing and following hand safety tips will keep workers safe, and these safety procedures can help improve workplace safety.
1. Remove Jewelry from Hands and Wrists
Remove jewelry like bracelets and rings from each finger and wrists before wearing gloves. You might not notice at first, but even simple jewelry can warp the fit of gloves and affect their effectiveness. Sharp edges can snag or rip the material, leaving you more susceptible to injury.
2. Choose the Right Glove for the Job
If there are a variety of glove options, it may be confusing to know which one to choose. Different glove types are designed to protect different materials and scenarios when they are worn. Ensure you always know which gloves are suitable for each job and use the right ones.
3. Ensure the Gloves Fit Properly
If you’re wearing gloves, they should fit properly. Only wear the size that fits. A too large pair will impair dexterity and force your hands to work harder, causing fatigue. Too small a pair restricts your movement and causes discomfort and excessive perspiration.
Wearing the wrong gloves can be more dangerous than the hazard you protect your hands against.
4. Use Gloves as Intended and Keep Them On
Talk to your supervisor or safety manager if a pair isn’t available for the job that fits you. You should never attempt your job without wearing a properly fitting pair. An alternative pair will not be able to protect your hands.
5. Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Gloves
Any type of glove must be replaced at some point, even reusable gloves. Follow guidelines for how long they can be worn. Pay attention to wear and tear. Before putting them on and starting a task, you should always examine your gloves for snags, tears, pulls, or peeling. If you see any tears, holes, thin spots, or saturation, throw them out and replace them immediately.
6. Follow Glove Donning and Doffing Procedures
Don’t forget to don and doff safety gloves carefully to keep your hands safe before beginning a task. Always remember to put on the pair after donning coveralls, goggles, and other PPE and to put them on before you come in contact with chemicals, contamination, or other dangerous equipment or tasks.
When it’s time to remove the gloves, make sure not to come in contact with any hazards to protect your hands. Follow all the guides for safe doffing. Make sure to dispose of them if they’re single-use or clean and store them if they are reusable.
7. Always Be Alert
Always be alert and aware to protect your hands. The risk of injury increases when workers are distracted or tired.
Pay attention to your body for signs of distraction or fatigue. Stay alert and be focused when working to keep your hands safe. Take breaks and stretch to give your muscles and tendons a chance to relax. Gloves can only do so much for hand protection alone, but paying attention will help reduce preventable risks. Speaking of “Being Alert,” we do have a group of Driving Safety Tips that you should share with your employees as well. (We also have a Warehouse Safety Tips write-up if you have warehouse workers.)
8. Properly Use Tools and Machinery
Only operate tools and machinery if you have received training and can follow the manual. Injury prevention starts with making safe choices. Don’t assume you know how to use something because you have used something similar.
First, you should identify safety features and emergency off switches. Never remove safety guards or perform maintenance while the machines or tools remain on.
Also, inspect your tools before using them to ensure they’re in good condition and store them safely when you’re done. This prevents getting fingers or other parts of your hand stuck in between two objects, especially when working on rotating pieces of equipment.
9. Avoid Hazards
With every occupation, certain actions should always be avoided, even when you wear gloves. Never put your hands near sharp objects or moving parts or put them in places where you can’t see them.
You should never do something you know is dangerous to save time or effort. Never operate machinery under the influence of mind-altering substances, and understand the potential side effects of prescription drugs.
10. Immediately Report Any Injuries
If you are injured, you should immediately seek medical assistance. Even minor injuries should be addressed and treated as soon as possible. The severity of your injuries can have a long-term impact on a worker’s hands. Be sure also to mention close calls and near misses with a supervisor to come up with solutions to minimize any risk.
How Can Hand Injuries Be Prevented?
The best form of protection is prevention. The right glove pair can help, but implementing engineering controls is another way to ensure safety in the workplace. Physical safety guards are built into machines to protect hands from pinch points, rotating parts, low-voltage electricity, and sharp objects.
Proper hand injury prevention training with administrative controls can also prevent harm. This includes safety training, warning signs, tag rules for product substitution, and creating ergonomic principles that put less strain on the hands.
How Can I Improve My Hand Safety?
All employees should know the equipment, tools, and hand safety tips. About one million workers are treated for hand injuries annually. Workplace safety is imperative to prevent these situations and keep everyone safe.
The ability to identify safety features and follow guidelines can help improve safety. Following engineering controls include electrical proximity, emergency stop devices, and ergonomic tools to keep workers safe.
Administrative controls can also come in handy when employing engineering controls. Routinely checking equipment and working with supervisors to keep the work space clear of hazards will decrease the chances of anyone getting hurt.
Prioritizing With Hand Safety Tips
Safety is non-negotiable. Most hand injuries can be prevented by eliminating the risk of them occurring. The right size glove and knowing how to use equipment can impact performance and safety. Following safety training and working with supervisors to keep the workspace safe is beneficial for everyone in the long run. We hope you found these hand safety tips to be helpful!