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Our hands are essential to what we do every day – don’t take them for granted!

Our ability to use our hands is one of our greatest assets. They are the most valuable tool you have whether you’re at work, at home or at play.

We’re talking about the importance of hand safety in March. It’s a critical topic to discuss because hand injuries represent more on-the-job injuries than any other body part. And injuries can range from minor scrapes and cuts to much more serious, such as fractures and amputations.

The most common causes of hand injuries are due to:

  • Carelessness.
  • Lack of awareness.
  • Boredom.
  • Distractions.
  • Not following established safe work practices.
  • Lack of personal protective equipment or wearing the wrong type.

There is nothing close to replacing your hands’ usefulness and adaptability. Can you imagine what your life would be like without one or more of your fingers or even one of your hands? How would you manage to do the simplest of tasks – opening a door, starting a car, working with tools, keyboarding a computer – even eating or drinking?

Here are 10 ways you can prevent hand injuries.

  1. Fully evaluate your work before you start to safely plan and complete it. Even the simplest of tasks using your hands could result in an injury.
  2. Routinely complete an ergonomic evaluation to set up your workstation properly, and take periodic breaks to prevent repetitive hand injury.
  3. Ensure you are properly trained and knowledgeable in how to safely complete the task, operate the equipment or use the tools. Ask for help or clarification if you are unsure what to do.
  4. Be alert and aware to avoid poor positioning of your hands. Keep them away from sharp objects, extreme temperatures, out of the line of fire or in places that can cause your hands to be pinched, struck, burned or cut.
  5. Use the right tool for the job, and always inspect the tool before use. Never use damaged tools.
  6. Always ensure the guards are in place for power tools. Make sure they are functioning properly. Never disengage or remove them.
  7. Secure the equipment or parts to be worked on in a vice so you have full use of your hands to operate the tool.
  8. Select the right glove for the job, and make sure the glove is the right size and fit not only for protection, but also for dexterity.
  9. Use self-retracting or guarded utility knives to protect your hands from the blade. Do not use open-bladed, personal pocket knives for work.
  10. When using cutting tools, ensure the blade is properly sharpened, wear the appropriate gloves and cut away from your body.

Preventing hand injuries at home

Hand injuries happen at home too; in fact, they are the most common reason people visit the ER. Injuries can range from simple cuts to much more severe. Here are some tips you can use to prevent hand injuries at home.

  1. Cut away from your hand or fingers when using a knife.
  2. Turn off lawnmowers, snow blowers and any power cutting tools before putting your hands near the blades.
  3. Keep your eyes on the task at hand, especially if you’re using power tools.
  4. Make sure children’s hands are clear before shutting car doors.
  5. Don’t let kids play around escalators, elevators or revolving doors.

Join our safety conversation! Follow CH2M on social media.  

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Britt Howard

Vice President, Enterprise Director of Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Quality
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