Handy advice for hand protection

Hand injuries are among the most common injuries in the workplace. We find out what factors should be considered in creating a hand-safety programme

Speaking at the Saiosh Conference held earlier this year, Jeremiah Mostrom, director of sales for HexArmor/Uvex, commented on the factors companies should consider when implementing hand-safety programmes.

“Hand injuries are usually one of the main reasons why people can’t work. As one of the most prevalent workplace injuries, it’s also the most preventable. Addressing these injuries is not only about personal protective equipment (PPE), which is a last line of defence. It goes deeper and there must be a full programme of training and support,” Mostrom began.

He noted that hand safety requires a dedicated effort, with many factors to consider.

“A hand-safety programme is part of a continuous focus on improving safety culture by driving behavioural change and hand-safety awareness. The programme must consider policy, responsibilities, record-keeping and training,” Mostrom said.

He discussed the various mistakes people often make with regard to hand safety, beginning with the gloves themselves. “Seventy percent of hand injuries are as a result of the person not wearing gloves. The other 30 percent are due to people not wearing the right gloves. There isn’t a one-glove-fits-all solution…

“Times have changed; today’s gloves offer higher performance with increased comfort and dexterity, however glove selection is still important. Gloves must be fit for purpose: for example, gloves for mechanical work will differ from those suited to handling hazardous chemicals,” he noted.

“It is important to understand a glove’s limitations, which should be evidenced by real-world testing. Does it provide both cut and puncture protection? What about impact resistance? What materials is it made of and what kind of grip does it offer? These are some of the questions that one should ask,” he explained.

Mostrom suggested that a hand-safety programme needs to be aligned with audits and proper training. Factors to consider include reviewing best practices, ensuring proper glove sizing, ensuring correct care of the gloves, communication about hand safety (for example, training or posters), enforcement of safety rules and the appropriate service and support from the manufacturer or supplier.

“Hand safety is an ongoing journey and not a one-time event,” he concluded.

Watch out for crushing and pinching

According to PPE supplier Ansell, crush, pinch and impact injuries can be extremely serious, with significant morbidity. Such injuries cause bruising and bone fractures that can put workers in hospital and can also have severe long-term effects.

The company quotes a 2014 study published in the online edition of the Occupational Health & Safety magazine that states that “stuck-by” and “caught-between-objects” injuries account for
56 percent of all recordable incidents.

“Fatigue, poor grip and poor visibility can all lead to impact, crush and pinch injuries of the hand. That translates to an increase in down time, a decrease in productivity, lost revenue and higher costs,” says Ansell.

Targeted protection, without compromising grip and dexterity, helps reduce injuries in the most vulnerable areas of the hand. Our extensive field research shows precisely the types of injuries workers sustain most frequently, and we turn that insight into user-driven solutions,” the company concludes.

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SHEQ Management

SHEQ MANAGEMENT is the definitive source for reliable, accurate and pertinent information to guarantee environmental health and safety in the workplace.
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