Hand injuries are one of the most common – and most preventable – injuries in the workplace. They can lead to long-term loss of mobility, dexterity, and grip, and some injured employees may never regain the full function of the injured hand or fingers. With the potential for these lasting impacts in mind, preventing hand injuries should be a top priority. Here are 3 handy tips to help your safety team prevent hand injuries in the workplace.
PPE and tools
As with many other injury prevention strategies, hand injury prevention starts with using personal protective equipment (PPE) and the right tools for the job. With 70% of hand injuries occurring when employees aren’t wearing gloves, taking a look at your PPE protocols is a crucial first step to preventing future injuries.
When selecting gloves, try to choose form-fitting gloves in a wide range of sizes so that employees get the best fit possible. Think about the type of work that your employees are doing and the nature of the machinery or tools they work with. Cut injuries account for 63% of all hand injuries, so if your employees frequently work with sharp objects, tools, or machinery, choose cut-resistant gloves.
Preventing tendon and muscle strain injuries to the hands starts with having the right tools. Select ergonomically designed tools that are high-quality and reliable, reducing the risk of injury to your workers’ hands.
You should implement and enforce a zero-tolerance policy regarding employees not wearing protective hand gear, failing to comply with protocols, or using the wrong equipment. Check out How to Create a Culture of Safety to learn more about getting your employees on board with your safety protocols.
Hierarchy of controls
Every safety manager probably has the hierarchy of controls memorized, but actually putting these controls into action can be a key strategy in helping you prevent hand injuries in the workplace. Thinking about the risks that your employees face and implementing the right controls to help them avoid injury is essential to creating a healthier and safer workplace.
- Elimination and Substitution: Think about the common processes that your employees utilize in the course of their jobs. Are there ways for your safety team to eliminate potential hazards? Observe the procedures that employees are using in the workplace, how their jobs are conducted, and look for ways to eliminate or substitute for a potential hazard that could lead to a hand injury.
- Engineering Controls: Keep an eye out for hazards that can be removed at the source, rather than relying on human prevention of injury. Examples of engineering controls that are highly effective in protecting workers from hand injuries include blade guards, electronic proximity limiting devices, emergency stop devices, and ergonomic tools.
- Administrative Controls and PPE: If you have established processes and machinery in place it can be difficult or extremely costly to implement elimination or engineering controls. In these cases, administrative controls and PPE can be used to reduce the likelihood of injury. This effort takes a concerted effort on the part of both management and employees to prevent injuries.
When it comes to operating high-risk equipment or training new employees, experience really does matter. Recognizing the value of experienced workers can be a key tool in preventing hand injuries.
For high-risk equipment, allow only employees with extensive experience to operate the equipment to reduce the likelihood of injury. Never allow new employees to operate high-risk equipment on their own, and use discretion when selecting who will train new employees on this equipment.
To prevent repetitive stress injuries, muscle fatigue, or tendon injuries, cross-train employees on different equipment and rotate them throughout the day or between shifts. Not only will this help decrease the likelihood of injuries, but it can also increase job satisfaction and reduce lost productivity when an employee is out.
Your partner in safety
Keeping your workforce safe is priority one for your company. Sheakley can help you develop better policies and provide assistance with developing safety programs to help you achieve your safety goals. Our experts are here to keep your employees and your business safe. Sheakley’s Workforce Management Services experts provide complete safety resources for your company.
Get your free safety consultation today. Stay up-to-date on all things Sheakley by subscribing to our blog and following us on social media. Join the discussion by commenting below.