You wouldn’t want your employees to lose a hand at work any more than you would want them to lose their temper, so if hand safety isn’t the first thing that springs to mind when you think of workplace safety, reconsider. Hands are by far the most widely used tool your employees have, regardless of industry. An employee’s hands are a multi-purpose tool that can go anywhere and do anything.
So it should come as no surprise that three of the most common workplace injuries involve hands in some way: lacerations or punctures, falls, and repetitive-use injuries.
Serious injuries to an employee’s hands and fingers, in particular, are unpleasant and costly. Furthermore, the cost of a hand injury is not solely paid by the employee who sustains it. If the damage is severe enough, the insurance company will be responsible for paying for care and treatment, family members will be responsible for caring for them at home, and coworkers will be expected to take up the slack at work. Even slight cuts can result in missed production and work time for hours, days, or weeks, not to mention the employee’s discomfort and irritation.
Fortunately, these forms of workplace hand and finger injuries are rather simple to avoid. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” as Benjamin Franklin once said.
So, how can you safeguard your employees—and, by extension, your company—from possible hand and finger injuries? How can you ensure that workers are using the finest practises and protective equipment possible?
What are the most effective methods for establishing and disseminating hand safety guidelines in the workplace?
If you adopt the preventive approach by implementing some or all of the following hand safety guidelines, both your workers and your business will be considerably better off than if you don’t (in which case you’ll eventually have to deal with hand injuries).
Properly Use the Proper PPE
Requiring staff to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in the form of gloves is one of the more obvious ways to provide hand and finger protection, but there are a plethora of sorts and options—which ones should you choose? It depends on the industry, work climate, and sort of work your employees do, just like any other form of protective equipment. Industrial hand gloves, cut resistant gloves, chemically resistant gloves, and coated gloves are just a few of the hand PPE alternatives available. In some cases, protective eyewear, such as goggles or safety glasses, may be required.
Employees who use cutting tools or operate around sharp objects should be fully trained on the skills and equipment they’re utilising, in addition to wearing hand protection PPE. Workers should also be reminded to use and respect equipment safety features and machine guarding, as well as to select the appropriate tools for the work and operate them correctly.
Hand Safety Toolbox Talks
Toolbox lectures are a fantastic way to focus on specific aspects of workplace safety, and a hand protection toolbox talk should absolutely be on your schedule. Some of the dangers you’ll want to point out and discuss how to avoid include:
- Punctures and lacerations
- suffocates and crushes
- Overuse and muscle strain
- Surfaces and substances that are hazardous
- When carrying goods, hand slams or abrasions can occur.
- A slip or trip and fall can have a significant impact on your hands.
- Getting too close to machines or other potentially dangerous locations
- Use our “handy” hand safety toolbox discussion PDF guide for inspiration or a ready-made meeting plan to discuss hand dangers in the workplace. (Did you catch what we did there?)
Other Hand and Finger Safety Tips
- Keep the flooring and surfaces of your workspace clean and clear of dirt.
- Use tools that are made with safety in mind and made with high-quality, cutting-edge materials.
- Knives and other sharp things, in particular, should be stored properly.
- Use caution when handling tools.
- Spills should be cleaned up right away.
- To clean up shavings, dust, dirt, or anything else that could potentially tear the skin, use brooms, brushes, dustpans, or sweepers.
- Take pauses from repetitious work on a regular basis.
- Maintain equipment and machinery training and certification.
- Specify when employees should take off their jewellery, watches, and other valuables.