A couple of years ago at an event for the hand safety campaign Zero Excuses, David Lynn, a former OSHA compliance officer and corporate EHS manager, explained that the elements for building a workplace hand safety program include trend analysis, hazard assessment, training, communication, planning, compliance and follow-through.
A hand safety program begins with tracking hand injuries and analyzing the data for trends. It's not just about analyzing the types of hand injuries that are occurring, Lynn explained. It's also important to know what types of job tasks workers are involved in when they hurt their hands.
For example, in his consulting work with one company, Lynn's analysis revealed that many hand injuries were occurring while workers operated tools and equipment.
"So we were able to extrapolate the trends out of those injuries and begin to see where the issues were," he explained.
During his talk, Lynn "got real" with the audience, sharing his own lapse in hand safety judgment, which involved carving a piece of plastic with a box cutter-type knife and several stitches. While he laughs about it now, Lynn acknowledges he knew better and made a poor choice.
And if he can make a poor choice, so can employees, which is why training and ongoing messaging about hand safety are so important, he emphasized.
Like Lynn, I understand that hand injuries often occur because the wrong tools are used, the correct tools are being used improperly and/or hand protection is not being worn. Which brings me to my role in this hand safety tale…
I'm a gardener. I use sharp tools in the garden to cut branches, flower stems, roots... you name it. I am the proud owner of a garage full of gardening tools, all designed for different tasks.
I also am the proud owner of at least 10 pairs of gloves, all of which were designed for various industrial uses but make stellar gardening gloves. I swear the following are not paid product placements, like a Pepsi can in a film, but I want to give you an idea of what we're talking about here…