According to OSHA, there are over 16 million hand injuries that occur on jobsites around the United States each year. Of these, over 250,000 are considered serious and disabling injuries. We use our hands for just about every single job that we take part in. In a lot of ways, our hands can be considered our most versatile tool. But they are also one our most fragile tools and special precautions need to be taken every time we use them.
Hand injuries are most common when we are either using the wrong tool for the job or using the right tool inappropriately. That is why a proper JSA is needed before any job can be started. During this JSA, it is important to establish exactly what tool is the right tool for the job, how to use these tools the right way, and also to locate and address potential pinch points. JSA’s can also be used to identify what parts of the jobs will put our hands in the “line of fire” and how to alleviate that issue.
• Pinch Point - a point in which it is possible for a person or part of a person’s body to be caught in between two objects
• Line of Fire - a place in which a person or part of a person’s body is in immediate danger of getting injured
There are several different types of hand injuries that workers can attain while working on a job site. These types of injuries can range from, bruises, cuts, puncture, burns, and fractured/broken fingers and possibly even amputations.
The most common type of hand injury each year is the result of a crush. This is why always looking for and finding pinch points is such an important and useful thing to do when keeping our hands and fingers safe. As was discussed earlier, it is always important to identify potential pinch points during the JSA and be mindful of these pinch points and your hand placement as the job is in progress to keep your hands out of the line of fire.
Other common causes of hand injuries can be the result of failure to use safe guards, kill-switches, or follow appropriate lock out procedures. With this in mind, please never remove safeguards, inspect all equipment before and after any task is carried out, and follow the company established lockout/tag-out procedures.
The last barrier of protection for any job should always be wearing the proper PPE for the task at hand. In this case, select an appropriate pair of gloves that will best protect you from the task you will be attempting to complete. For example if cuts, abrasions and punctures are the biggest hazard of the job then selecting a glove made from leather or canvas will give you the best all-around protection. When working with hazardous substances, reviewing the SDS sheet can also be a good tool. It will tell you what kind of gloves are needed when dealing with that substance.
Another helpful hint is to always choose a glove that fits snug and is not too big. Gloves that are too big make it difficult to grab objects securely and may make it easier for the gloves to slide off or be removed inadvertently. Gloves that are too big can also get caught in equipment. This could potentially leave your hand/fingers in the line of fire and unprotected.
Please also remember that STOP WORK AUTHORITY is always an option available to you if recognize that you or any of your co-workers have their hands in the line of fire.