Safety is in our hands
As we recognize the importance of Safety Week, remember: hand and finger injuries are among the most common injuries at work and at home. Below are some helpful tips to keep your hands safe when doing household tasks.
Preventing Hand Injuries at home
Operating Moving Equipment
Before you head out to mow your lawn, be sure to follow these important safety measures for working with equipment such as mowers, trimmers, and chainsaws:
- Make sure all guards are secure and in place.
- Keep hands and fingers out of the moving parts.
- Never reach blindly into any spaces in, around, under or near the equipment.
Portable Power Tools
These tools are convenient, but they create potential hazards for your hands and fingers. Don’t operate your cordless drill or other power hand tools until you:
- Make sure they are operating correctly, and all guards are in place.
- Unplug corded tools or remove the battery from cordless tools before changing bits, blades or accessories.
- Put a tool out of service or send it out for service if it is broken or malfunctioning.
Using Hand Tools
Sometimes there’s nothing like an old-fashioned hammer or screwdriver to tackle small repairs or other tasks around the house. But just because they’re not electric doesn’t mean traditional hand tools can’t cause injuries. Don’t forget these simple but important tips:
- Make sure you are using the correct tool for the job – no improvising.
- Select the right size and head style for screwdrivers.
- Screwdrivers are not pry bars, scrapers, chisels, or puncturing tools.
- Select the right type and size of wrenches and pliers for the job.
- Never use a cheater bar on a wrench.
- Look the tool over to be sure it is in good working order and not damaged in any way.
- Don’t use a chisel with a mushroomed head.
- Don’t use pliers with worn grooves or adjustable wrenches with worn or sprung jaws.
- Use penetrating oil on rusted nuts and bolts – give it time to work.
- Secure your work in a vise or a bench.
- Use a locking pliers when grinding, trimming or cutting small parts.
using sharp objects
The injury risks of using sharp objects such as utility knives or saws are obvious – but that doesn’t mean you should let down your guard. When working with these and other bladed tools, remember to always:
- Keep blades on knives and tools sharp.
- Wear cut-resistant gloves.
- Use the right knife and blade for the material being cut.
- Check the path the knife will follow before starting a cut.
- Keep momentum away from your body when cutting.
- Dispose of all sharps in a labeled sharps container, not the regular trash bin.
Fixing a plumbing problem under the sink, or retrieving a lost toy from beneath the sofa? Blind reaching – reaching into, under, over, between, or behind something when you can’t see where your hands will be – can cause your hands to be burned on something hot (or cold), cut on a sharp edge, or come into contact with moving parts.
If you can’t see:
- Get down on your hands and knees to look under something first.
- Use a flashlight or mirror.
- Shut down equipment and lockout to remove a guard to work on it or pick up a fallen item.
- Sharp tools also cause contact injuries.
Dress for the job
Before you start a task, be sure to review your wardrobe for any items that could pose a safety risk:
- Remove rings, watches, and bracelets when working with tools, machinery, or if they could get caught on anything.
- Make sure sleeves or other loose clothing can’t get caught in or on anything.
- Select the right work glove for the job and make sure they fit properly – not too tight and not too loose.
- Inspect gloves for tears, holes, and wear.
Other Hand Safety Tips
It might go without saying, but you use your hands for nearly everything, every day! Which means even “regular” tasks can create hazards for your hands. Here are a few more general ways to keep your hands safe, no matter what you’re doing:
- Avoid frequent use of solvents, harsh soaps, or abrasive cleansers.
- Wash hands immediately after using any chemical – even if you wore gloves.
- Get medical attention for skin rashes or irritations on your hands.
Keep your hands safe!