Spotlight Safety | Hand Protection & EN 388 Standard
Our hands are involved in virtually everything we do and due to this, we can sometimes take them for granted. No matter the job, your hands are a key part of your ability to perform it. Though hand injuries usually do not attract the biggest headlines, and are not typically fatal by nature, they are one of the most frequent types of injuries in the workplace.
What are the Effects of Hand injuries?
- We use our hands constantly. A disabling hand injury can have a dramatic effect on your quality of life.
- A hand injury can impact not only your ability to perform your job, but daily routines as well. A hand injury can occur in a second, but the social, financial and emotional effects can last a lifetime.
- According to government and industry statistics, hand injuries represent nearly a third of all reported workplace incidents. Approximately 75 percent of industrial injuries that cause partial disability involve the hands; over 16 million individuals seek emergency care each year for hand injuries.
Types of Hand Injuries
- Our hands consist of 27 bones, ligaments, muscles, tendons, nerves, blood vessels, skin and nails. Working in unison, they provide strength and dexterity which enables us to perform routine tasks and accomplish precision movements.
- Because of their tremendous versatility, hands are exposed and susceptible to many types of injuries. These include:
- Strains and sprains from excessive force, excessive repetitive motion, awkward posture, contact with surface conditions
- Skin irritation from contact and exposure to hazardous or irritating substances; burns from contact or exposure to electricity, chemicals and hot substances
- Punctures from tools and other sharp objects
- Lacerations and cuts ranging from minor to major if tendons or nerves are severed
- Fractures and broken bones from being crushed or falling
- Amputations, resulting in a loss of part or all of the hand.
- If not reported and treated promptly and properly, hand injuries, even minor ones, can develop further complications.
Common Hand Hazards & How to Control Them
- Common hazards in the workplace can include sharp objects, hand and power tools, hot objects, pinch points, chemicals, energy sources, moving equipment and machinery.
- Hand tools are non-powered tools, which can include hammers, screw drivers, chisels, knives, wrenches and more.
- The greatest hazard posed by hand tools results from the improper use and maintenance of the tool. Use the tool only for its designed purpose.
- Hand tools should be inspected before each use; make sure they are clean and in working order. A defective tool should be repaired before use or removed from service.
- When necessary, hold the work in a vice or clamp instead of your hand. Pull, don’t push, a wrench handle for more leverage.
- Know where your hands are at all times. Keep them away from moving parts of machinery and points of operation.
- Make sure guards are in place and used. Report any missing guards to your supervisor.
- Isolate energy sources and lock out equipment before placing your hands in potential points of contact. Thousands of workers are injured each day due to failure to properly lock out and tag out equipment.
- Don’t wear gloves, loose clothing or jewelry that can get caught in equipment and pull your hands in. It is important to maintain your concentration and focus at all times when working around moving equipment and machinery.
Proper Use of Protective Safety Gloves
- When properly selected and utilized, gloves can help reduce hand injuries. The wrong glove selection and use can also pose a hazard.
- The wrong sized glove can cause extra stress on the hands. The wrong type can provide a false sense of protection, and used in the wrong situation can create a safety hazard.
- Be familiar with the types of tasks you perform and the substances you may be exposed to. Gloves can provide protection against sharp objects, electrical burns, hot objects, chemical exposure and environmental elements.
- Inspect gloves before each use for wear and tear, cracks and other signs of defects these can inhibit their protective qualities.
- Contact with chemicals can cause burns, rashes and skin irritation. Use the right glove for the chemical hazards you are exposed to.