We use our hands every day for many things such as grasping, manipulating, holding, feeling, and much more. Hands are commonly considered as one of the most widely utilized body parts, which usually rings true when it comes to working in an industrial environment as well. In the industrial work environment, there is a wide array of different jobs. However, most jobs involve the usage of hands. In fact, jobs such as drilling, sorting parts, and various assembly work positions usually require the use of hands to complete the job. In order to keep hands safe while on the job, it is important to choose and use protective equipment that suits the unique risks involved.
Different Types of Hand Hazards
Hand hazards can be divided into four distinct groups, those groups are: mechanical, chemical, thermal, and electrical. Even though these four groups are very different in type, they can all quickly and ferociously debilitate the hands. Let’s take a look at each hazard and how you can protect yourself against it.
· Mechanical: Mechanical hazards are present when working with different machinery or equipment. Common injuries resulting from mechanical hazards involve cuts, scrapes, various abrasions, or even crushing. Protective gloves can be used in mechanical situations based on the type of equipment that is being utilized. For instance, sheet metal workers may use cut resistant gloves to prevent hand injuries stemming from sharp edges on sheet metal.
· Chemical: Chemical hand hazards are tricky since damage doesn’t always appear right away, sometimes it may take years of exposure to a chemical to start seeing physical damage. Based upon the type of chemical exposure, the skin on the hands may become burned, scaly, contract chronic skin diseases, or even become cancerous. A barrier type of glove that does not allow liquid to pass through is usually the most effective when it comes to chemical hand protection.
· Thermal: Thermal hazards are hazards that deal with temperature. However, it is important to remember that excessive levels of cold temperatures can be almost as damaging as excessive heat. Thermal hazards include burns, dry and cracked skin, and loss of fingers. Extreme cold temperatures impede grip which can lead to even further health hazards. Thermal rated, heat resistant gloves are the best protection against thermal hand hazards.
· Electrical: Many different occupations feature different electrical hand hazards. The hands are at an increased risk because the hands are often the body part that is touching the live electrical components. Rubberized, insulated electrical gloves are the best option for electrical protection.
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Don’t Underestimate Hand Hazards
Even though it may be easy while at work to just jump in and fix something, it is imperative to assess the hand hazards involved first. Many hand injuries happen because people don’t “think” or “remember” to utilize proper hand protection. This is not an acceptable excuse. The time is now to start cutting back on hand injuries. Take the proper hand precautions right away and enjoy your two most utilized appendages: your hands.