Our hands are undoubtedly one of the most important tools that we possess. We use them in practically every task that we undertake and their flexibility, strength and coordination are unrivalled. Because our hands are so important it makes them one of the most vulnerable parts of our body.
We should always take the greatest care to protect our hands from accidents at work, as not only do we risk physical harm because of an accident, but financial too. As an employer, providing the correct hand protection is crucial to your workforce. Accidents come with high cost and loss of productivity.
Understand Hazards in the Workplace
In order to select the right hand protection for the job, you’ll need to understand the hazards that you will be dealing with. The most common injuries to hands include lacerations, bumps and impact/crushing accidents. Providing a workplace hazard assessment will help to identify risks and provide important information regarding which hand protection to choose.
Another way to identify potential hazards is to simply observe and communicate with the workforce regarding awareness of hazards. Observing where a worker places their hands while performing typical tasks, particularly if operating machinery, will help you understand what type of hand protection they may need. Staff may also share their own firsthand experiences dealing with hazards on the job.
Choosing the Right Hand Protection
When choosing hand protection, it’s not just the required level of protection that needs to be taken into consideration, so do the fit and the function. There are a wide array of options available which can make choosing safety gloves intimidating.
If you are looking for cut resistant safety gloves then the ISEA (International Safety Equipment Organisation) provide guidelines for cut-resistant safety gloves that use a numerical scale. Cut resistance isn’t the only factor in preventing cuts when wearing safety gloves though, you also need to consider the tear strength, grip and abrasion resistance which are all important when making a choice. Cut resistant safety gloves are much lighter and cooler than they used to be.
Impact resistant safety gloves are another type of hand protection available. Because our hands are very dexterous, painful blows can often easily occur and impact resistant gloves can help prevent these types of accidents. They work by protecting the vulnerable parts of the hands such as the fingers and back of the hand, where there is a lack of natural padding. Impact resistant gloves also protect from pinching caused by tools and vibrations from heavy machinery.
Other Ways to Protect Your Hands Properly
Safety gloves are not the only way of protecting your hands at work. If you are operating heavy machinery then you should ensure that the correct machine guards are fitted where necessary so that your hands are kept out of harm’s way. You should also ensure that all staff are trained in safety policies and that they receive training where necessary in safety practices.
Another thing to consider that should not be overlooked is the wearing of rings, bracelets and watches, which can get caught in machinery and cause accidents. Having a clear safety policy in place will help workers understand the potential dangers.
Hand protection comfort has improved along with advancements in materials and design which is giving employers a better choice to provide the best hand protection available that achieves safety compliance standards and reduces accidents in the workplace.