Take Matters into Your Own Hands: Hand Protection Safety
We use our hands for virtually every task we do at work and because of this fact they are commonly injured on the job. Keeping our hands and fingers out of harm’s way at work is critical. A serious injury to an individual’s hands or fingers results in a huge negative impact on their ability to work and overall quality of life.
Did you know while gloves are the most common form of PPE found in the workplace, hand injuries are still the second leading type of injury on the job?
Hand Injury Statistics (source: www.bls.gov)
- There are 110,000 lost time cases due to hand injuries annually
- 1 million workers are treated in an ER for hand injuries annually
- 70% of workers who experienced a hand injury were not wearing gloves
- Another 30% of victims had gloves on, but they were damaged or inadequate for the work task
Here’s what you need to think about when selecting gloves. In addition to identifying actual or potential hand hazards, you also need to think about such things as:
- How employees use their hands when they perform specific tasks
- How often and how long they perform those tasks
- How much manual dexterity is required for each task
- How great the risk of exposure is for each hand hazard
- How to ensure a good fit (because a glove that doesn’t fit right won’t protect correctly and may even create new hazards)
Considerations like these will help you determine the right kind of glove for each job that requires hand protection. Then all you have to do is match the glove to the hazards and conditions.
For example, you might require employees to wear:
- Cotton gloves to keep hands clean, improve grip, insulate from mild heat or cold, and provide some protection from cuts, scrapes
- Leather gloves to protect against rough surfaces, sharp edges, and objects that can cut or puncture skin, and sparks and heat that can cause burns
- Rubber gloves to protect hands from strong cleaning products and moisture, as well as to provide insulation when working with electricity
- Disposable gloves for protection against mild skin irritants as well as bacteria and viruses
- Chemical-resistant gloves (e.g., nitrile, neoprene, rubber, polyvinyl) to protect hands against hazardous chemicals (when the hazard is chemical, be sure to consult the MSDS for recommendations about glove selection)
- Temperature-resistant gloves to protect against extreme heat or cold
- Metal mesh gloves to protect against cuts and amputations when sharp instruments or objects are being handled
- Shock-absorbing gloves to protect against repetitive motion stress and vibration