A safe pair of hands?

Compliplus safety glovesYou use your hands for almost every activity in your daily and working life and in the workplace especially, they are often one of the most exposed and vulnerable parts of your body. It makes no difference if you’re punching a keyboard or holes into walls, all workers should ensure that their hand safety is not compromised by unsafe work practices.

For those engaged in manual handling activities or where work activities are more hazardous, gloves are the most common type of personal protective equipment (PPE) used. The safety gloves you wear should be suitable for the job, for example rubber, plastic, or synthetic gloves which are widely used in laboratories and healthcare environments. It should be noted that gloves are a “last line of defence” when it comes to keeping your hands safe and other measures should be in place to reduce or eliminate risk.

The following measures can reduce risk to you and your hands at work. 

 

Conduct a risk assessment 

Conducting a risk assessment is the first step in identifying tasks that may put our hands in danger. Equipment is reviewed for pinch points; the areas where there is a chance of getting caught in moving parts of a machine. The risk assessment will also identify materials that may become jagged or splintered, identify extremely hot and cold surfaces, and list potential sources of chemical exposure.

Engineering controls

If it’s not possible to get rid of all hazards, then we should consider whether engineering controls could be implemented. Engineering controls help us reduce exposure by modifying the processes, equipment, and materials involved in the work. One example of this is machine guarding. A machine guard is a protective barrier to prevent workers from making contact with hazardous areas created by moving machinery

Ergonomic Risks

Ergonomic risks are often overlooked because their negative effects are not immediate. Over time, ergonomic and repetitive strain injuries can cause difficulty to individuals and these types of injury are common in the workplace. Workers who regularly repeat tasks, use forceful exertion, or are exposed to vibration and sustained awkward positions are at risk to ergonomic injuries. An ergonomic specialist can assess your workplace and help you implement a repetitive strain prevention system.

Proper Tool Use and Care

All tools should be inspected prior to use, serviced regularly, and the workers using them should receive formal training on their proper use. Refer to owner's and operator's manuals to determine maintenance and servicing intervals. Generally, the responsibility for inspection lies with the supervisor but workers who use tools and equipment daily should also inspect them before starting their work. As soon as any problems are discovered, the tool must be removed from use. The misuse of tools and equipment is a frequent cause of injuries. It's often assumed that everyone knows how to use common hand tools, but this assumption can lead to injury. Proper and timely training ensures that fundamental safe practices are fresh in everyone's minds. 

Safety Data Sheets

To help protect against exposure, employers must inform workers of the specific chemicals used in the workplace and provide access to the corresponding safety data sheets. Employers should make a list of controlled products onsite available to employees. The list should be reviewed and updated as new products come in or old ones exit. The supervisor should review the safety data sheets and draft a list of PPE required to safely handle the products. 

Encourage and develop a Safety Culture

Every company should encourage and promote safety from the ground up. Research has shown that a positive safety culture and well communicated policies and programs encourages workers to follow safe work procedures, use the PPE supplied, and report hazards to their supervisors.

Ensure Proper Housekeeping

A low standard of housekeeping can wear down the morale of workers, but it can also lead to accidents and incidents. A “clean as you go” approach should be taken to ensure a safe workplace and employers should provide ample disposal systems for the various types of debris created over the course of a regular workday. Materials should have nails, screws, and sharp edges bent over or removed, and employers should promote daily post-work clean up tasks.

 

Wearing gloves to protect your hands is essential to keeping them safe, but it's not enough. It is prudent to look at the work processes and implement various other measures to mitigate risks, rather than relying on gloves to be the principal safety measure. By doing this, you can be confident that you or your employees will make it through the day with their hands unharmed.