Personal Protective Equipment - Protect Your Hands

Protecting your fingers and hands is important for your work and quality of life! Work-related hand injuries are one of the leading reasons workers end up in the emergency room and miss work. Damage to the nerves in your fingers and hands, loss of a finger, skin burns or allergic reaction, can negatively impact the quality of your work, your productivity—or worse—end your career and seriously detract from your qualify of life. The cost of these types of injuries and illnesses to the construction industry is estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars each year!

Causes for Hand Injuries:

How many times have you grabbed a sharp object, touched a hot surface, felt pain in your hand because of how you were gripping a tool or twisting your wrist, come close to getting your hand or finger caught or crushed, or had your skin come in contact with a chemical? If you can think of even one time for any of these, it is one time too many! There are many hazards on construction sites that can result in a hand injury, including:

  • Inattention
  • Taking chances
  • Exposure to rough material
  • Stacking of heavy materials (i.e. getting your hand or fingers caught between materials)
  • Cut by sharp objects
  • Mashed (or hit by) tools
  • Burns
  • Caught in machinery (Pinch Points)

How to Protect Your Hands:

  • Always stay alert and focused on keeping your hands safe – not just at the start of work or a task.
  • Keep guards on machinery and power tools in place –Don’t remove or reposition them.
  • Use tools and equipment designed for the work being performed and use them as instructed by your supervisor and/or the manufacturer.
  • Don’t put your hands or fingers near the moving parts of a power tool or equipment. Make sure machinery, equipment and power tools are completely off before you try replacing, cleaning or repairing parts – follow lock-out/tag-out procedures.
  • Identify safety features on tools and equipment before you use them, such as emergency off switches.
  • Check tools and equipment to make sure they are in proper working order before beginning a task.
  • Keep hands and fingers away from sharp edges (blades, protruding nails, etc.). Never cut toward the palm of your hand.
  • Wear gloves that fit your hand and are right for the work being performed – not all gloves protect against all hazards.
  • Do not wear rings, other jewelry or lose articles of clothing that could get caught on a moving object.

Work Glove Selection

Protect Your Hands with Safety Gloves

Exposure Hand Protection
General Maintenance, Operation, Material Handling and Housekeping Tasks Appropriate work gloves are required. ANSI/ENN rated level 1 cut resistant work gloves are preferred. Equivalent protection may be provided by leather work gloves.
Potential cut exposure, razor knife use, sheet metal work or other exposure to sharp edges. 360 degree Level 2 or higher cut resistant. Where there is potential exposure to the arm above the cuff of the glove also use cut resistant sleeves.
Temperature Extremes Nomex or Lined Kevlar
Chemicals Review "Material Safety Data Sheet" for appropriate glove selection.
Bodily Fluids Nitrille or Latex
Welding and Burning Operations Regular welding gloves
Electrical Work Energized electrical work is prohibited. If site specific exception is granted, appropriate glove use is covered by the appropriate safety regulations.

Remember: Should any injuries occur to your hands, get immediate treatment. Without treatment, a minor cut can turn into a major problem with infection. Your hands may look tough, but when you get scratches, cuts, bruises or mashed that seriously injure your hands, you take a change of losing them. In this business, you can’t work without them!

Discussion Questions:

  • What hand hazards do we have on our site?
  • What close calls with hand injuries have we had?
  • Do we have the type of gloves we need onsite and ready for use?
  • What can we do to improve hand hazards on this job?