Hand & Line of Fire Injuries
Prior Safety Thoughts on Hand Safety focused on behavioral safety – watching the line-of-fire and hand position; and proper glove selection. Another key aspect of hand safety is looking for hazards related to tools and to the work environment.
For example, think about the hand tools you are using. Your task may involve making an equipment adjustment. Your focus may be on the bolt or on the gauge that you need to work. You may not be thinking about the condition of the tool, but overlooking worn jaws on a wrench, a cracked wooden handle, or other tool defect could put your hand at risk.
How often do you work around hot surfaces or potential steam hazards? You may be climbing a scaffold, scoping out a problem, or getting an equipment reading. The work you are doing may not directly involve a hot surface or steam, but you can’t ignore a potential thermal burn hazard if it’s near the work you are performing.
General environmental and weather conditions may also affect hand safety. A normally dry surface may be slick if it becomes oily, wet (rainy), or icy (winter). When you grab or apply force to an object in this unexpected condition, you may lose our grip and jam your hand. The environmental condition may not be directly related to the task you are performing, but it can put you at risk of a hand injury.
When planning any job, be sure that you consider the hazards of the task itself. Consider line-of-fire, pinch points, and hand position. Be sure that you are using the correct gloves for the hazards. But don’t overlook general hazards in the work place created by the tools you are using or the environment you are working in. Think about the condition of tools, hot surfaces & steam, environmental conditions, and any other abnormal circumstances that could put your hands at risk.
So let’s learn from past experiences and improve our safety performance by watching for pinch points, by consistently wearing gloves, and by watching out for stored energy that could create stuck against injuries.