A study from the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety shows that wearing gloves lowers the risk of acute occupational hand injuries by 60 percent to 70 percent.
Using gloves at all times on the worksite helps reduce the inevitable wounds caused by the sharp, unfinished edges and tight squeezes involved in construction.
Other common worksite hand injuries include:
1) Sliced thumbs when interior finish workers draw a utility knife across the top of a scoring square. While pulling the knife away from the body can protect against this, wearing a glove on the nondominant hand offers protection when workers forget and pull toward their hands.
2) Lacerated or burned hands when roofers handle and cut membrane shingles.
3) Cut fingertips when plumbers or pipefitters apply flux with a finger, leaving the worker vulnerable to the unexpected sharp edges of new copper pipe.
4) Brushed and cut hands when workers improperly use adjustable wrenches.
Gloves alone are not a cure-all. Once the right gloves are chosen for the job, supervisors should conduct a hand tool safety refresher course.
Remind workers that it’s dangerous to hammer with tools not designed for hammering, such as wrenches and locking pliers; Ask workers to inspect every day before use their striking tools for loose hammer heads, split handles and other evidence of wear and tear that can lead to hand injuries. Damaged tools should be trashed.
Workers may complain that wearing gloves is inconvenient. And, in many cases, they are right. In fact, workers should never wear gloves on their free hands when using a power saw, drill, planer or portable cutting tool with teeth.
But the protection that gloves provide against manual hand tools far outweighs any inconvenience.
Source: Ted Christensen is director of contracting services at the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety and Ted Braun is director of manufacturing technology for Liberty Mutual, Boston. For more information, email theodore.christensen@ libertymutual.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.