You might be surprised to learn that hand injuries are one of the most common work injuries. They comprise about one-third of all injuries in the workplace and 20 percent of disabling injuries. A hand injury can threaten the livelihood of nearly every worker, because it can make performing even a simple task difficult if not impossible.
About hand injuries
Who is most at risk for hand injuries? Construction workers are most vulnerable, as are production workers and skilled craftsmen. A slide show prepared by the Safety and Health Council of North Carolina lists the most prevalent types of hand injuries occurring in the workplace:
Other types of workplace hand injuries include burns, frostbite, abrasion, and penetration by foreign objects.
How to avoid hand injuries
There are some simple measures workers can take that can help them avoid or minimize the possibility of hand injuries:
- Use hand tools that are sized properly for your hands.
- Remove rings and bracelets when working.
- Use tool extensions when possible, such as a wrench extender or saw push tool.
- Wear the proper type of glove for the job, such as these types of specialized gloves:
- Electrically insulated gloves
- Heat insulated gloves for working around hot surfaces
- Cut-resistant gloves
- Chemical handling gloves
- Disposal gloves for working with infectious materials
- Don’t use gloves that can get caught in machinery.
- Remember that gloves do not last forever, especially gloves for chemical handling.
- Report all safety hazards to your supervisor.
- Speak up if your employer or a machine service company modifies safety guards or removes them from equipment.
- Don’t leave sharp tools and dangerous chemicals lying around. Put them in their proper place.
- Clean up chemical spills as soon as possible.
Common sense precautions
- Don’t put your hands where you can’t see them.
- Don’t depend on your reflexes to save your hands.
For more information about hand safety, particularly as it relates to the construction industry, visit http://www.choosehandsafety.org/
If you have suffered a hand injury while working, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation benefits. Speak with an attorney if you have questions about filing a claim or if your claim has been denied.