You probably aren’t aware of how complex a piece of equipment your hands are. There are a total of 27 bones in your hand and wrist. These bones are joined together by ligaments, which also hold the joints in place. Nerves carry messages from your brain to your hands and fingers to help them move. All of this intricate machinery is wrapped up in a layer of skin. The skin provides a barrier against foreign objects, as well as heat and cold. The skin on the back of your hand is thin and elastic, but on the palm, it is thicker to provide traction, cushioning and insulation.
Just like any other delicate piece of equipment, your hands need to be safeguarded while you are working. The most common sources of injury stem from mechanical hazards from tools, equipment, machines, structures and vehicles such as:
- Chains, gears, rollers, wheels and transmission belts
- Spiked or jagged tools
- Cutting, chopping and grinding mechanisms
- Cutting tools such as knives and presses
- Falling objects
You can make your hands less vulnerable to these risks by following these safety tips:
- Work at a pace at which you feel comfortable – The number of hand injuries you will have is in direct proportion to how quickly you work.
- Keep alert – Stay focused on what your hands are doing whenever you are using tools or machinery.
- Use a push stick to feed a circular saw.
- Handle the tools and equipment you work with properly – Never take shortcuts.
- Use wrenches that properly fit the nuts and bolts you wish to tighten.
- Use long magnetic poles for retrieving items from places that are too dangerous for hands to reach.
- Don’t hold the work piece in your hand while using a hand tool because the tool could slip and cause injury.
- Never try to repair power tools or machinery without first checking that the power is shut off and the machine is locked out.
- Wear the appropriate gloves when handling chemical substances.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water or use special cleansers, especially after direct contact with a chemical substance.
- Don’t wipe your hands with chemically contaminated rags.
- Don’t operate machinery if you are taking any medication unless your doctor tells you it is safe to do so. Some drugs can slow your reflexes, which makes your hands vulnerable to injury.