Highlighting Hand Safety in Construction
Our hands are incredibly versatile, allowing us to perform a wide range of actions that we rarely even think about. However, our hands are also exposed to a variety of risks that can result in injuries which range from small cuts and bruises to serious lacerations, burns, broken bones and in some cases, crushes and detachments. More than half of hand injuries that result in workers’ compensation cases are due to open wounds, such as lacerations, though dislocations, sprains, and even crushes and amputations occur on a fairly regular basis.
While hand injuries at work are not limited to just one industry and happen across a wide variety of jobs, employees who work in the construction and manufacturing industries are considered at greater risk for hand injury. Construction involved the use of hammers, saws and other tools and also regular use of large, heavy machinery, including bulldozers, dump trucks and cement mixers. These tools and machinery, when used incorrectly pose a risk for possible hand and arm injuries through crushing, pinching, puncturing, etc. Employees in manufacturing are also frequently expected to operate large machinery, such as drill presses, lathes and screw machines, all of which pose a high risk for hand injuries.
Hand injuries may happen at any time, though when a worker is distracted and not focusing clearly on where they are and what they’re doing poses a particular risk. This is why it’s vital that employers eliminate as many distractions as possible in the work area, especially when there are heavy machinery and power tools in operation. Reminding employees to stay alert and focused and offering them regular breaks to sit down, stretch or walk around is a vital part of safety in the workplace.
The main causes of hand injuries are distraction, lack of education or disregard for safety procedures. Negligence and inattentiveness may certainly be blamed for hand injuries, but there is plenty of preventative equipment available and resources on how to keep your hands safe, so there really is no excuse. When 400 safety experts were asked to identify the top reasons for hand injuries occurring in the workplace, the majority revealed that they blamed this on a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) or lack of cut-resistant gloves.
Establishing and enforcing a set of rules is vital and additional steps should also be taken as preventative measures:
Provide PPE – make sure that workers are well equipped with PPE, especially gloves. When selecting the type of protective gloves to provide, there are several factors to consider. It is vital to choose the right type of gloves for the work being undertaken and make sure that each worker is issued with a pair of gloves that fit correctly and are suited to the work they are expected to do.
Employers should also offer education about the tools and machinery used at the work site and set up a training programme to educate employees about equipment and machinery features, including important buttons such as the emergency cut off switch. A training programme will highlight the danger zones for tools and machinery.
Hang a list of safety tips in the break room and insist that employees remove all jewellery such as rings, necklaces, earrings, etc. before heading to the worksite.