Each year, as many as one million workers in the United States are faced with serious hand injuries. Ranging from injuries as minor as cuts, to incidents where workers were subjected to fractures and amputations.
A research conducted by the American Society of Safety Engineers in 2015, studied 400 safety professionals with 14-percent of all participants representing the construction industry. 33-percent of all respondents participating in the study claimed to have been a victim of 10 or more work-related hand injuries within just the past 12-months. Another 12-percent of the respondents reported being subjected to more than 30 injuries.
Constructions workers rely heavily on their hands. Despite being perhaps the only source of income for them, their hands are the most important of all tools for them. Taking into account the dozens of accidents pertaining to hand injuries in the past, the Occupation Safety and Health Administration, (OSHA) under the United States Department of Labor, has taken a stricter approach towards maintaining the safety of the workforce.
Under 1915.157(a), OSHA requires employers to “ensure that each affected employee uses appropriate hand protection and other protective clothing where there is exposure to hazards such as skin absorption of harmful substances, severe cuts or lacerations, severe abrasions, punctures, chemical burns, thermal burns, harmful temperature extremes, and sharp objects.” It also recommends that employers should consider seeking help from the 10 Hour Construction Safety program that discusses all the many ways to minimize and possibly eliminate any risk of hand injuries amongst construction workers.
Wondering how you can support the safety of your workers? Continue reading to learn about the many ways your workforce can feel safe at work.
Safety Measures to Protect the Hands of Construction Workers
It is essential for construction workers to wear protective gloves when working. Fitting like a second layer of skin and offering protection to their hands when handling rough materials, these gloves are vital to their safety.
Keep Hands Free of Grease or Oil
The hands of construction workers often come in contact with greasy substances such as oil. While slippery hands can cause fatal injuries in addition to injuring the hand in the event of an incident, it is important for workers to keep their hands clean.
Safety Related Trainings
Safety trainings are very effective when it comes to reducing the occurrence of workplace injuries. Research indicates that construction workers who receive training on safety measure are 12-percent less likely to get into an accident while on job.
Choosing the Right Tools
Cases of the carpal tunnel syndrome, tendonitis, and osteoarthritis can be worsened due to the use of machinery or tools that further increase the fatigue on the wrist. Choosing the right tool with handles that fit the worker’s hand can promote productivity, reduce wrist problems, and prevent strain injuries.
Personal Protective Equipment
The use of personal protective equipment (also referred to as PPE) is highly encouraged by OSHA. Minimizing exposure to hazards commonly found at the workplace and protecting employees against severe injuries and illnesses, PPE reduces the risk of serious accidents.
What Is Typically Included Under PPE?
Personal protective equipment covers items such as safety glasses, shoes, hard hats, respirators, earplugs, vests, full body suits and gloves; with each item working to promote the safety of construction workers.
Proper Use of PPE
As important as PPEs are to ensure the protection of the workforce, the proper use of PPE is to be ensured. The following are a few ways that promote proper use of PPE:
- PPE should fit the workers comfortably. PPE that does not fit properly can leave certain areas of the workers’ hands exposed.
- They should be maintained properly and should be replaced once they begin to show signs of wear and tear.
- Employees & employers should be trained on the Personal Protection Equipment Standard that must be followed to establish proper use of PPE.
The construction industry is one of the largest and one of the most successful business sectors in the United States. With more than 10.3 million Americans working in the construction industry and their hands being an important source of livelihood, ensuring the health and safety of their hands is imperative. The use of PPE combined with frequent training sessions can improve the safety of these workers and help the industry offer a safe work environment to all.