Hand Injury and Prevention Safety Talk

We use our hands for virtually every task we do at work and because of this fact they are commonly injured on the job. Keeping our hands and fingers out of harm’s way at work is critical. A serious injury to an individual’s hands or fingers results in a huge negative impact on their ability to work and overall quality of life. While gloves are the most common form of PPE found in the workplace, hand injuries are still the second leading type of injury on the job.

Hand Injury Statistics 

  • There are 110,000 lost time cases due to hand injuries annually.
  • 1 million workers are treated in an ER for hand injuries annually.
  • 70% of workers who experienced a hand injury were not wearing gloves.
  • Another 30% of victims had gloves on, but they were damaged or inadequate for the work task.

Three Common Types of Hand Injuries

  1. Lacerations are the most common type of hand injuries. Lacerations are due to sharp objects or tools. Often hand injury and preventioninadequate gloves are used during an activity that involves a sharp tool. A glove with Kevlar is effective in protecting the hand against a cutting or slicing motion. A straight stab motion can still easily penetrate these gloves. Caution needs to be used when using any tool that can easily penetrate the skin.
  2. Crush injuries are usually due to employees placing their hands in the line of fire between two objects or in a rotating piece of equipment. 
  3. Fractures occur when there is a sudden blow to the bones in the fingers or hands. Motor vehicle accidents often cause fractures to the hands. Another common cause of fractures is an individual extending out their hands to catch themselves from a fall.

Safe Work Practices

  • Use tools to remove your hands from the line of fire when doing a work task that could result injury to your hands or fingers. Using tools such as push sticks when using a table saw is an example that removes your hands from the line of fire.
  • Avoid using fixed open blade knives. There are safety knives that limit the length of the blade exposed. They also have a safety feature that retracts the blade when pressure is let off the handle or switch that controls the blade.
  • Never put your hand in an area where you cannot see it.
  • Always wear the proper gloves for whatever work task you are doing. Understand the limitations of your gloves and what work tasks they are appropriate for.
  • Never work on an energized piece of equipment. Lock and tag out the equipment to ensure there will not be unintentional start up while you are working on the equipment.

Respirator Certification – What Does N95 Really Mean?

Respiratory Protection

Selecting respirators appropriate for your workplace can be a daunting task. Respiratory protection program managers need to understand the airborne hazards in their facilities, determine the required assigned protection factor for a respirator, choose what type of respirator is needed (air-purifying or atmosphere-supplying, tight-fitting or loose-fitting) and make sure each employee’s respirator fits properly.

The term “N95 respirator” gets thrown around a lot because it is one of the most common types of respirators. In this post we’re going to take a look at what that term (and similar terms like R99 and P100) mean. Understanding these labels is important for both employers and employees because both need to know the respirators being used are sufficient for the hazards present.

NIOSH Certification Levels for Particulate Filtering Respirators

For a respiratory protection program to be OSHA compliant it must use respirators certified by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). NIOSH, a division of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), has 10 classes of approved particulate filtering respirators.

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Basics of Disposable Clothing: Cover Your Assets

Certain work environments require higher levels of protection from hazards, chemicals, particulates, dust, dirt and grime. For workers that may be exposed to hazardous material, it is so important to make sure they have the protection they need to avoid serious health risks. Aside from respiratory equipment, eye and ear protection, having the right disposable protective clothing available to workers is often required by OSHA as part of a solid PPE program (1910.120).

Jobs that may require additional protection:

  • Labs, construction sites, chemical plants, paint and body shops
  • Hazardous waste clean-up and disposal, asbestos removal or pesticide application
  • Site survey, rescue, spill mitigation, emergency monitoring and decontamination

Exposure to splashes, spills, contaminated surfaces, or aerosols in the workplace can lead to health issues and/or diseases of the skin including contact dermatitis and even cancer. When workers are exposed to hazards on a daily basis, they need the right body wear to stay healthy, productive and be able to continue the job for years to come.

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Safety Gloves & Chemicals: The Overlooked Safety Hazard

You are running through your mental checklist of personal protective equipment (PPE) that you are going to need to have on-site. Keeping your workers safe is always a major concern and you know there is always the potential to overlook something important. So while you make sure you have hard hats, safety glasses and hearing protection, don’t forget about chemical hand protection!

That’s right; those two important body parts that help every worker get the job done from the little pinky to that game changing opposable thumb. Hands are a pretty big deal.

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Nine of the things bad safety leaders do really well

I’m often asked “What are the key traits or behaviours of a great safety leader?”

No matter where I am around the world, the question always pops up from both operational leaders and H&S practitioners, apparently keen to improve. My reply tends to be based on a list of attributes of people I deem to be great leaders, which have become noticeable over a period of time.  It typically includes things like passion, integrity, dedication and selflessness. I can’t help but wonder though, if it’s time for a change of perspective.

Let’s flip it. “What are the characteristics of a bad safety leader?” I suggest, this is as important as the first question, but almost never asked.  Why?  Perhaps because we tend not to enjoy asking about negatives.  But here are 9 of the things bad safety leaders do really well – so that you can spot them from a distance and steer clear.

They always have an excuse – Leaders who never take responsibility for safety are skilled at avoiding actions ascribed to them. Worse though, when held accountable for lack of action, or poor safety performance they always have an excuse, or find someone else to blame.  By contrast, great safety leaders admit to their shortcomings, mistakes or delays in action and seek to learn from these.  This of course is nigh impossible for those leaders who believe it was never their fault in the first place.

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Reasons for Trying a Personal Approach to Safety Leadership

About a year ago we started working with a manufacturing company – one of their sites had been struggling with high incident rates for the previous couple of years. Their TRIR was significantly higher than the industry norm and they were having a significant issue with slips, trips and falls. When we began working with their leadership team, we realized that they had a great set of dedicated, seasoned supervisors, who had a strong work ethic and wanted to do the right thing. However, there was one problem – they didn’t necessarily have the strongest people skills. While this was apparent immediately upon meeting them, it was later confirmed when they completed a safety leadership assessment which measured their leadership style.

Over 50% of them fell into what we call an “Overseer” style of leadership. Based on concepts from classic research in leadership, and the basic dimensions of consideration and initiating structure (see Bass, 1990 for a review), this is a leadership style where the supervisor provides a lot of autonomy to their people and generally lets people do their job however they want. Sounds great, right?

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Employee safety accountability in 5 steps

Many of us in safety use the widely-accepted definition of employee accountability as “the responsibility of employees to complete the tasks they are assigned, to perform the duties required by their job, and to be present for their proper shifts to fulfill or further the goals of the organization.” That’s it? This definition falls short of what we should really expect from engaged and safety-focused employees. It simply states that employees should show up on time, do their jobs, and go home. So, how do you get employees to take personal and group accountability for your safety programs?
As uncomfortable as it might be to acknowledge, the first step is getting management out of the way.

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8 Tips for Managing Stress and Anxiety in the Workplace

The simple act of living is often stressful. Even happy times–from putting on a party or getting ready to go out, to big events like getting married–can bring on bouts of stress and anxiety. While these feelings can be particularly overwhelming at work, keep in mind that you hold the key to managing stress and anxiety not only at work, but in all areas of your life. When you make self-care a priority, you take control of your life.

When you look at managing stress and anxiety from the view of taking care of yourself, it shifts the emphasis back to you–where it should rightly be. You have the power to make good choices, such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, so that you feel well and healthy. It is tempting when stress hits to turn to alcohol, drugs, sugar, or junk food to help yourself cope, but this often makes the situation worse. Focusing on yourself and your own personal needs not only reduces stress, but can help you to keep chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and heart disease, at bay. Here are several tips that employees can implement at and outside of the workplace to help practice self-care and reduce stress.

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Your Situational Awareness and its Role in the Workplace

Being aware of your surroundings so that you can readily identify dangerous situations and identify possible threats could save your life. Situational awareness is useful in everyday life but has a practical application in the workplace. Maintaining this mindset could ensure that you return home with the same number of fingers and toes every night. Moreover, it could be the reason that you make it home at all.

Understanding Situational Awareness:

Situational awareness involves being aware of your immediate surroundings and the impact of your or other’s actions as it relates to the well-being of yourself and those around you. It requires the use of knowledge from experience and education in order to accurately assess and determine your level of safety. It is also important to acknowledge that each individual’s level of awareness may differ from your own when making an appraisal of your environment.

You should also remember that what you perceive as happening in your surroundings may not completely represent reality. How you read a situation could be easily influenced by distractions, personal experiences, and the quality of the type and level of information that you have been given.

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Easy Ways to Improve Your Ergonomics (And Why You Should)

Many people may only know the term ‘ergonomics’ from oddly shaped keyboards or expensive office chairs, but it’s a far-reaching process designed to make work safer and more efficient. In the process, it can save a company substantially.

History

The term ‘ergonomics’ dates back World War II, coined by aircraft designers for the British Royal Air Force as they tried to design cockpits that were the most compatible for human pilots, since they had found the most advanced planes in the world wouldn’t do much good if the pilot couldn’t fly it efficiently. The ideas behind ergonomics, however, stretch all the way back to ancient Greece. The ‘Father of Medicine,’ Hippocrates, gave a detailed description of how a surgeon’s workplace should be designed and how his tools should be arranged. All of these are ergonomic principles.

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