We use our hands for virtually every task we do at work and because of this fact, they are commonly injured on the job.
Hand Injury Statistics
- There are 110,000 lost time cases due to hand injuries annually.
- One million workers are treated in an ER for hand injuries annually.
- 70% of workers who experienced a hand injury were not wearing gloves.
- Another 30% of victims had gloves on, but they were damaged or inadequate for the work task.
Three Common Types of Hand Injuries
- Lacerations are the most common type of hand injuries. Lacerations 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.
- Crushing injuries are 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 crushing injuries.
- Fractures occur when there is a sudden blow to the bones in the fingers or hands. Motor vehicle accidents often cause fractures to the hands. Another common cause of fractures is an individual extending out their hands to catch themselves from a fall.
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 that limit the length of the blade exposed. They also have a safety feature that retracts the blade when pressure is let off the handle or switch that controls the blade.
- 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 for which work tasks they are appropriate.
- 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.