Hand Hazards Safety




What are some hazards to the hands, besides cut hazards?

A primary concern with hand safety is preventing cuts.  But there are other hazards to the hands that we need to be concerned with including thermal hazards, chemical hazards, caught in/between hazards (pinch points), and struck by/against hazards (line of fire).  This Safety Thought focuses on thermal and chemical burns.

Contact with hot liquids, steam and hot surfaces can cause burns.  Tasks involving the use of steam, working near operating (hot) equipment, and welding need to consider thermal hazards created by the work and existing hazards in the work area.

Contact with chemicals can also cause burns if the material is corrosive.  Other chemicals can cause dermatitis or skin rash due to reaction to the chemical.  Hydrocarbons can dissolve the fat in skin after prolonged and repeated contact, which also causes dermatitis.  Check the SDS for information on hazards to consider.

These types of injuries involving the hands can be prevented if we recognize the hazard and use primary and secondary means of hand protection.

What is a primary hand protection technique? 

We should always use safe work practices that minimize direct contact with thermal hazards and chemicals.  The JSA process should identify any source of thermal or chemical burns associated with the job, and allow us to make adjustments to how we work to avoid contact.  The manner in which we execute work – to avoid contact in the first place, should be the primary way that we protect our hands.

What is a secondary hand protection technique? 

Gloves are considered a secondary hand protection technique because, like all PPE, they are the last line of defense.  As the last line of defense, it’s important to use the correct glove, especially when chemicals are involved.  For example, a chemical glove can provide a barrier, while a leather work glove, soaked with a chemical, can cause the chemical to remain in contact with the hand until the glove is removed.

So review every job to identify thermal or chemical hazards.  Use work practices that avoid contact with these hazards.  And be sure that the proper glove is selected, inspected, and used when needed to ensure that hazards are properly addressed.