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Preventing Hand Injuries

Preventing Hand Injuries

How important are your hands?  
The hand is one of the most complex parts of your body -  the movement of the tendons, bones, tissues and nerves allows you to  grip and do a wide variety of complex jobs
Without your hands it would be extremely difficult to do routine simple tasks, such as opening doors, using a fork, or tying your shoes
Your hands make you a skilled, valuable worker
The improper use or misuse of hand tools cause minor to serious hand injuries
Hand injuries are likely when the wrong tool is used or the right tool is used improperly
Your hands and fingers are your most valuable tools – look after them
Hand Injuries

Hand injuries can be associated with working with machinery or equipment. The materials being used or the job process might be hazardous. Hand tools or powered hand tools may be faulty or improperly used

The most common causes of hand injuries are:
  • Carelessness
  • Lack of awareness
  • Boredom
  • Disregard for safety procedures
  • Distractions
  • Using incorrect or home made tools
  • Not doing a safety analysis before work start
Hand injuries are difficult to repair because of the complexity of the hand. After a hand injury, the hand may not function as it did before the injury due to loss of: 
  • Motion
  • Dexterity
  • Grip
  • Ability to complete the simplest of tasks
To avoid hand injuries:
  • Know the hazards and dangers in the job to be done
  • Be aware of pinch points
  • Be aware of hot areas
  • Be aware of rotating or moving surfaces
  • Automated machinery may be controlled by remote control, or delayed timing devices that cause the machine to start automatically
  • Loose clothing and jewelry may be caught up in moving machinery
  • Never remove machine safeguards or operate machinery with safeguards removed
  • Use the correct tools
  • Look for pinch points – keep your hands away
  • Never put your hands near rotating or moving machinery
  • Wear the correct gloves for the task
Hand injuries are the most common injuries referred for surgery. People often underestimate the importance of hands and fingers... imagine what it would be like to lift a drink without fingers, or not being able to hold hands with a loved one.
Ensure that you look for potential sources of harm to your hands and fingers, and keep your hands away. Use your imagination, and consider what might go wrong in your workplace.
Injury Statistics (Bureau of Labor Statistics 2002)
Nearly 250,000 injuries and illnesses to the hands involving days away from work in 2002 – more than one-sixth of the total for that year
Incidence rate/10,000 full-time workers:
  • All private industry = 37.2
  • Manufacturing = 55.1
  • Construction = 67.7 
Hand Injury Statistics
Hand Hazards
Bee Stings Chemicals Punctures Blood-borne Pathogen Insect Bites
Bee Stings Chemicals Punctures Blood-borne pathogen Insect Bites
Rotating Equipment Extreme Temperatures Pinch points  Vibrating Equipment
 Rotating Equipment  Extreme Temperatures  Pinch Points  Cuts  Vibrating Equipment
Lines of Defense
  • Awareness of Hazards and Prevention Measures
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Good Hygiene and First Aid
  • Stop unsafe work
  • Isolate and lock out
  • Use proper tools
  • When using screwdrivers, place the object on a flat surface or in a bench vise. Don’t hold it in your hand!
  • Don’t use screwdrivers as chisels or pry bars
  • Use the correct size driver for the screw
  • Don’t use screwdrivers with chipped tips
  • Use safety knives whenever possible
  • Keep knife blades sharp
  • Cut away from your body
  • Do not use knife blades as screwdrivers
  • Avoid working on the same object when a co-worker is using a knife
  • Use safety approved knives only
  • Never use a hammer with a splintered, cracked, or loose handle 
  • Don’t use hammers with rounded striking faces
  • Use the correct hammer for the job
  • Don’t strike a hammer face with another hammer
  • Don’t use nail hammer claws as a pry bar
  • Use softer material hammer on hardened steel 
Hand Saws
  • Use moderate pressure on hack saws to prevent blade failure
  • Spray saw blades lightly with lubricant prior to use
  • Keep blades sharp
 Safety chisel
  • When possible use a safety chisel
  • Don’t use chisels with mushroomed heads
  • Use the correct chisel for the job
  • Don’t use chisels as pry bars


  • Use the correct sized wrench for the job
  • Don’t use pliers with worn grooves or crescent wrenches with worn or sprung jaws 
  • Don’t use pliers or crescent wrenches on over-tight bolts and nuts
  • Pull on wrenches rather than pushing them
  • Never use a cheater bar on a wrench
Portable Power Tools
  • Disconnect power tools when not in use and before changing bits, blades, and other accessories
  • If a power tool binds STOP! and reassess the job
  • Wear anti-vibration gloves when using power tools that vibrate excessively
  • Never remove guards!
  • Ground power tools unless double insulated
  • Don’t wear gloves if they can get caught on 
  • rotating parts
  • Secure work in a bench vise or on a bench - Don’t hold it in your hand!
  • Use power tools without activating switch locking mechanisms
Shop Tools
  • Use a push stick to cut small pieces
  • Unplug or Lockout tools before changing blades
  • Keep tools sharp
  • Never remove guards
  • Use a drill press vise when drilling – Don’t hold parts with your hands!
Bench Grinders
  • Don’t wear gloves when operating bench grinders
  • Never remove guards!
  • Maintain proper clearances on tool rests and tongue guards 
  • Use vice grips when grinding small parts
  • Don’t use grinders on aluminum unless the wheel is specifically intended for use with aluminum!

Bench Grinder

Extreme Temperatures
Use tongs or high-temperature gloves to handle hot or cold parts and equipment
Extreme Temperatures
Bites and Stings
  • Use caution when moving debris piles or equipment which has been sitting for a long time
  • Don’t stick your hands in holes, crevasses and other secluded places, including work boots which have been sitting for awhile
  • Avoid areas where insects nest or congregate (garbage cans, stagnant pools of water, uncovered foods and areas where flowers are blooming)
  • Avoid dressing in clothing with bright colors 
  • Don't use scented soaps, perfumes or hair sprays 
Sharps Disposal
Never dispose of used razor blades, broken glass, or other sharp objects in regular trash cans!  Keep a metal can specifically for disposal of sharp objects.
Equipment Handling
Equipment Handling
  • Use tag lines
  • Wear leather gloves
  • Never place your hand on top of the load or between the load and a fixed object
  • Inspect hooks and chain slings before use
  • Never hang load from the hook tip, unless it is designed for that   
  • Assess the job before starting, communicate with team members
  • Remove jewelry before using power tools or working on machines
  • Keep sleeves buttoned


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