Our hands are used in almost all daily activities, work or leisure. But, for some reason, we often overlook just how frequently our hands are used until they are injured.
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), the hands are involved in one of every five occupational injuries. This statistic really isn’t all that surprising once a worker stops to consider the array occupational hazards, such as tools, solvents, and chemicals, that are capable of causing burns, contusions, and lacerations to the hands. That said, workers can protect their hands and avoid a lot of unnecessary injuries by taking a few precautions.
Material Safety Data Sheet. Some chemicals can burn your hands immediately following contact. Before handling any chemical, it’s of vital importance that you’re familiar with Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS), as these forms will instruct you on the safe handling and use of certain potentially harmful chemicals.
Hand Washing/Cleaning Procedures
- Apply lotion if your job requires frequent hand washing.
- Use mild soap and water to wash hands; dry them thoroughly.
- Avoid harsh and abrasive cleaners.
- When removing tar, grease, or paint, use a waterless cleaner.
- Never wash hands with benzene, paint thinner, gasoline, or other harsh solvents.
- Flush hands under running water for 20 minutes or longer after your hands come into contact with any corrosive chemical.
- If a minor skin laceration occurs, wash it immediately and seek medical treatment.
- The MSDS can alert you to what type of glove should be donned when handling potentially harmful chemicals.
- Throw any frayed, tattered, or worn gloves away.
- Never share gloves with co-workers.
- Never immerse your hand in chemical agents, even if gloved.
- Asbestos or leather gloves are used to protect against heat.
- Neoprene or rubber gloves are used to protect against corrosive chemicals.
- Cotton, leather, or PVC gloves are used to protect against abrasives.
- Synthetic knit or cotton gloves with gripping dots are used when hand-grip is needed.
- Kevlara, heavy leather, or metal-mesh gloves are used to help prevent cuts to the hand.
- Never wear gloves with any metal features when working near electrical hazards.
- Avoid wearing gloves around moving equipment.
Avoiding Contusions and Lacerations
- All tools should be properly maintained on a regular basis.
- Safety guards should never be removed and a tool without the appropriate guard shouldn’t be used until it’s in proper working order.
- Lockout equipment when making repairs or cleaning it.
- Wear metal-mesh, leather, or Kevlara gloves when handling or operating sharp and bladed tools.
- Don’t do a job if you don’t have the appropriate tool.
These simple safety precautions can help you keep one of your most important assets, your hands, intact.