In late 2015, the American Society of Safety Engineers conducted a research project on hand safety and, more specifically, hand injuries. While their findings were significant, the study—which included more than 400 people—was also important because it was the first study of its kind in more than a decade looking specifically into hand injuries.
Among the key findings in the study included:
- Twenty-seven percent of those surveyed reported having more than 30 work-related injuries occurring during the last 12 months. These injuries ranged from very minor to very serious, with some requiring an emergency room visit.
- Hands were found to be the most commonly injured part of the upper body and received nearly twice as many injuries as the arm, shoulder or wrist.
- A third of the respondents reported ten or more hand injuries in the past year; 12% reported having more than 30 hand injuries.
- The most common type of hand injury was a cut to the hand or fingers. In fact, more than 40% of all the reported hand injuries were cuts and punctures. This was followed by sprains, fractures and burns.
- When the participants were asked why these hand injuries occurred, 40% cited the lack of cut-resistant gloves. Improper training ranked second with 20% and the rest claimed the injuries were caused by protective clothing being worn out or an equipment failure/malfunction.
Interestingly, the Employer-Related Workplace Injuries and Illness Report of 2014, released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016, concluded that, overall, there has been a steady decline in nonfatal occupational injuries and illness since 2003. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news is that this progress is not being found when it comes to hand injuries. In some cases, and in some industries, hand injuries are increasing. As for why this is happening, the researchers suggested:
- Workers have been putting themselves “in harm’s way,” according to the report, and taking risks on the job that can result in hand injuries.
- Workers are not wearing gloves or are not wearing the proper gloves (for instance, selecting gloves with too low a cut-resistance for the task being performed).
- There is a lack of safety leadership and training to help encourage workers to wear gloves and prevent injuries.
The big takeaway from this study is that hand injuries are all too common among U.S. workers and, unlike other types of work-related injuries, are not only not on the decline, but in some cases increasing. Further, many hand injuries can be prevented.
Employers and their staff must become better educated as to the importance of wearing gloves and, more importantly, wearing the right types of gloves in the workplace. Some studies have indicated that more than 70% of all work-related hand injuries could be prevented if gloves—especially the right gloves—are worn. A wide variety of gloves are available from suppliers such as DayMark Safety Systems. Don’t let staff put themselves at risk—stress the importance of using proper protection and provide employees with the education and training they need to work safely.
This post is sponsored by DayMark Safety Systems