How Can We Stop Hand Injuries Happening?

A construction site can be a real hotspot for hand injuries. Due to their frequency, we want to look at the impact of these injuries and how to manage them better.

The types of injuries

There are a fair few ways these occur on-site. The most common include:

  • Crushed hands and fingers
  • Cuts and punctures
  • Burns
  • Electric shock

The causes are often the result of equipment malfunctions, falling objects, compression between objects, electrical faults, and insufficient training or instruction.

Hand tools

Hand tools are a huge contributor to hand related injuries in the workplace. When using common tools such as hammers, hand saws, pliers, angle grinders etc,  fatigue, rushing, complacency, using faulty or damaged tools or a lack of training can often lead to workers injuring themselves.

The long-term impact

The long-term impact of a hand injury ranges from minor to severe. A minor injury could mean changes in grip strength and reduced range of motion of the fingers. In more serious cases, a worker may lose the ability to use their hand.

Raise Awareness 

Awareness is everything. You can educate your workers in the following ways:

  • Pre-starts to ensure that the tool is in good working condition. Any sign of damage/wear and tear, do not use it. Place it out of service so no one else accidentally uses it and replace the tool (if it’s bent, don’t bend it back – replace it!)
  • Plan the task and take your time.  Ensure you have a firm grip on the tool and check your surroundings
  • Use the correct tool for the job and follow any relevant manufacturer instructions
  • Think about the potential reaction once an action has been made (if you’re pulling a nog out, how hard do you have to pull/hit it, do you have a solid footing, what/who is behind you).
  • Hand placement, hand placement, hand placement! – Ensure your free hand is as far away from the area as possible. It may be needed to hold the item steady, but ensure it is as far away from blades/hammerheads as possible.
  • Hold safety demos for all dangerous machinery (some tool suppliers have demo and training courses available).
  • When holding toolbox meetings, regularly highlight hand safety and discuss with the team key hazards and controls so its kept front of mind
  • Ensure appropriate PPE is worn e.g. gloves

This is more than just talking to your workers, as a supervisor/manager you need to give your workers adequate information, instruction and supervision when it comes to health and safety on-site. Real-life examples of incidents that have life-changing effects on workers  (e.g. health, livelihood) can further highlight the importance of hand safety.

Ensure the workplace is regularly monitored and reviewed to ensure controls are in place / being used and that they remain effective. One way to do this is to complete a site review in the HazardCo app. 

If you’ve got a question about hand injuries or any other health and safety matter, the HazardCo Advisory Team is here to help. Give them a call on 1800 954 702.

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