The Importance of Hand Safety in the Workplace

This article provides an overview of the most dangerous hazards for the hands and an introduction to hand safety practices.

worker with hand gloves for hand safety

Published 16 Sep 2022

What is Hand Safety?

Hand safety is the practice of taking precautions to protect your hands from injuries and hazards. There are many potential risks to your hands, including cuts, burns, and exposure to harmful substances. Taking proper hand safety precautions can help prevent hand injuries and keep your hands healthy.

The Importance of Hand Safety

You may not think about it, but your hands are constantly in use when you’re working. From gripping a tool to typing on a keyboard, your hands take a beating day in and day out.

That’s why it’s so important to protect them! Hand safety is all about preventing injuries, and the best way to do that is by using the right equipment and following the proper safety procedures.

There are all sorts of hazards in the workplace, and if you’re not careful, you can easily get injured. Cuts and scrapes are the most common injuries, but there are also cases of more serious injuries like burns and amputations.

So take the time to learn about hand safety and make sure you’re doing everything you can to protect yourself from harm. Your hands will thank you!

What are the Common Hand Hazards?

It’s essential to be aware of the hand hazards in your workplace and take steps to protect yourself from them. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 102,350 cases of hand injuries alone, making it the highest total number among the other body part injuries. 

Some of the most common hand hazards are:

1. Pinch Points

Pinch points are areas where the hands can become caught and pinched between two moving parts of a machine or between the material being processed and the machine itself. Below are some of the devices that have hazardous pinch points:

  • Printing presses
  • Powered doors
  • Power presses
  • Conveyors
  • Hatches

2. Hot and Cold Spots

These are spots or areas that, when touched, can cause injuries due to their extreme temperature. For example, machinery hotspots, which are located in equipment such as injection molders and welding tools, can inflict severe burns on the hands. 

Meanwhile, extremely cold temperatures and surfaces, such as transfer pipes in refrigeration systems, pose the same level of danger and can also cause severe burns.

3. Rotating Equipment

These are machines or equipment that use rotating motions to function. Some examples include spindles, clutches, and fans. These are considered hazards, as most of the time loose-fitting gloves can be accidentally caught inside the rotating parts, along with the worker’s hands, causing injuries in the process. 

4. Automation

Machines programmed to automatically start on their own are considered a hazard. Workers may be caught off guard and injure their hands when the machine begins to start on its own. 

5. Entanglement

Entanglement is when a piece of your clothing or jewelry gets caught in moving machinery. This results in pulling your finger or entire hand inside the machine. 

Other common hand injuries include:

  • Cuts – Sharp objects can easily cause cuts to the skin.
  • Bruises – Heavy objects can cause bruising if they come into contact with the skin.
  • Burns – Chemicals or hot surfaces can cause burns.
  • Amputations – Sharp objects can cause amputations if they come into contact with the fingers or hands.
  • Crushing – Heavy objects can crush the fingers or hands if they are not properly supported.

Rules of Hand Safety

There are a few basic rules of hand safety that everyone should know. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the standard numbers 1910.138(a) and 1910.138(b) must be followed when exposed to hand hazards in the workplace. 

You can also follow some of these guidelines to keep your hands safe and injury-free:

  • Always wear gloves when you’re working with hazardous materials. This will protect your hands from harsh chemicals and sharp objects.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Make sure that the area you’re working in is clear of any potential hazards, like tools or wires, that could cause an accident.
  • Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands regularly and use hand sanitizer whenever you can. This will help prevent the spread of germs and bacteria.

How Do You Keep Your Hands Safe in Your Workplace?

There are a variety of ways you can keep your hands safe in your workplace, depending on the type of work you do. As a general practice, here are a few key things to keep in mind when practicing hand safety:

  • Always use the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for the task at hand. This may include gloves, hand shields, or other items.
  • Be aware of potential hazards in your work environment and take steps to avoid them. If you must work with hazardous materials, be sure to use proper safety procedures. 
  • In any workplace, it is important to practice good hand hygiene. Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, and avoid touching your face. 
  • If you have any cuts, open wounds, or other hand injuries, seek medical attention immediately.

Additionally, here are some hand safety tips to keep in mind when working under specific conditions:

Working with Chemicals or Other Hazardous Materials 

You will need to take extra precautions to protect your hands by using specific kinds of gloves such as neoprene, nitrile, latex, and vinyl gloves. These gloves are designed to resist harmful chemicals that may come in contact with our skin. 

Working with Machinery 

Make sure you are using the proper safety equipment, such as gloves or guards made from metal mesh, kevlar, and tough synthetic yarn for extra protection. Be sure to follow all safety procedures such as keeping your hands away from moving parts and being extra careful when using power tools.

Working with Electrical Wiring 

You will need to wear non-conductive gloves to protect your hands from low-voltage electricity.   

Working in a Health Care Setting 

It is recommended to wear sterile or non-surgical gloves (rubber gloves) to protect your hands from blood-borne substances that can be harmful to you.

Toolbox Talks for Hand Safety

It’s essential to have regular toolbox talks to remind workers about the importance of hand safety. Because let’s face it, when we’re working with our hands all day, it’s easy to get lax about safety.

That’s why it’s so important to have a regular reminder of the hazards we face and how to avoid them. A toolbox talk is a great way to do that.

In a toolbox talk, you can discuss specific safety hazards that are relevant to the work that your staff is doing and talk about how to avoid them. You can also discuss the personal protective equipment (PPE) that they can wear and how to use it effectively.

It’s important to keep in mind that no one is immune to accidents. So always be aware of your surroundings and take the necessary precautions to stay safe.

FAQS for Hand Safety

According to the National Library of Medicine, the most common cause of hand injuries is home accidents and falls.

Gloves included in PPE work attire are usually used for hand protection.

The two main types of gloves are reusable safety gloves and disposable safety gloves.

The most common hand injury is a severed fingertip, followed by hand, finger, and wrist fractures.

Shella Marie Ang

SafetyCulture staff writer

Shella Marie Ang

Shella Marie Ang is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. Cultivating her experience in social media marketing, virtual assistance, and SEO has helped her create compelling content for websites and blogs. Her medical background also has given her an edge when it comes to writing medical and health-related content. She loves reading in her free time and being around other creatives.

Shella Marie Ang is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. Cultivating her experience in social media marketing, virtual assistance, and SEO has helped her create compelling content for websites and blogs. Her medical background also has given her an edge when it comes to writing medical and health-related content. She loves reading in her free time and being around other creatives.