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March 6, 2017

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Hand protection for health and safety in the workplace

Gregory Tessier, product development manager for hand protection specialists Globus explores how regular hand protection policy reviews can enable safety managers to break through the injury prevention barrier.

UK non-fatal injury levels have reached a plateau showing no real sign of reducing since 2011, seemingly flat lining following several years of positive reduction, according to the latest HSE statistics.

Of the reported injuries to employees and self-employed reported in 2015/2016 – 122,000 cases were as a result of handling, lifting or carrying. At 20%, this was the second highest cause of injury after falls from height and a greater hazard than slips, trips and falls.

Hand protection must be worn sign

Hand protection must be worn sign

Accounting for almost a third of over 7-day injuries, the average time taken off work as a result of a single handling, lifting or carrying injury is 7.6 days.

When it comes to specific injuries to the hands, there were there were over 18,000 reported injuries to finger/thumb, hand injuries and wrist injuries in the same reporting period. Collectively, this lead to in excess of 127, 400 absence days.

So what is causing this flat line and why are safety managers seemingly finding it hard to break through this injury prevention barrier?

No hand protection ‘fix-all’ 

Given the complexity and diversity of UK industry, there is no single hand protection ‘fix all’ that can be parachuted in to help keep driving hand injury levels down.

But with the vast majority of injuries still very much largely preventable there are practical steps that can be taken.

One of the most effective is to regularly re-invigorate established hand protection policies.

This approach of undertaking regular hand protection policy reviews need not be as onerous as it may first sound. Select a year milestone – decide on an odd or even year – and use it as the basis for scheduling the review process thereafter.

The benefits of this approach may not only be felt on a safety level, but potentially across wider areas of the business.

Beware complacency!

Complacency is the enemy when it comes to hand protection. If you do what you’ve always done, very little is likely to change.

Human nature often dictates that change won’t arise unless a problem does. But just because a hand protection problem hasn’t arisen doesn’t mean you have the best solution to hand.

Continued technical advances means new and improved solutions to traditional hazards are ever evolving, thanks mainly to the development of high performance technical fibres.

You may feel you have an effective hand protection solution in place that has served you well over several years so why change?

The reality is you may not need to, but unless you find out you won’t know, because it’s all too easy to miss out on the potential rewards delivered by new technology.

So decide if you are an ‘odd or even’ and start to establish a minimum 2-year rolling hand protection review, assessing the needs of workers in your organisation and the latest solutions available.

Why should I review hand protection regularly?

Leading companies like Globus and its partner SHOWA continually invest in research and development (R&D), creating next generation hand protection solutions – whether chemical, mechanical, thermal or electrical (or combinations thereof).

Closer collaboration with the end user of the gloves has resulted in product development driven by customer involvement and ‘needs’ rather than just glove production capability.

The way people work and their interaction and relationships with the hazards they encounter are now at the forefront of the R&D process.

This has helped create multi-hazard solutions – high performance hybridised gloves combining, for example, chemical and mechanical protection with impact protection and high level grip.

The result – more effective hand protection solutions able to be used across a wider range of industrial applications.

Greater Technology – Greater Flexibility

Technology has not only improved protection but also delivered greater comfort, greater flexibility, and greater dexterity. An example is fibre that can wick moisture away from the surface of the hands allowing gloves to be used for longer periods without the need to be changed or removed due to discomfort or hand fatigue.

Increased worker productivity and, given the increased durability and longevity of latest gloves the potential for real and measurable cost savings too.

Conclusion

You only have to look how far glove technology has come in the last 10 years to see the value that regular hand protection policy reviews can have.

And we aren’t just talking about the positive impact on hand injury levels. The wider benefits can be seen and felt way beyond injury levels – with cost and time savings not to mention workers that are more engaged and supportive of the hand protection compliance policies.

While the hands remain one of the most important tools in many businesses there are some major benefits to be had when undertaking regular hand protection reviews.

Don’t gamble or leave it to chance – decide whether you’re odds or evens.

Find out more information on the range of hand protection solutions available from Globus.

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Terry Clare
Terry Clare
5 years ago

Statistics available from Build Uk show that Hand injuries along with Slips, Trips and falls injuries have risen on the construction sites that make the wearing of safety glasses compulsory. The figures show that the Main contractors have actually introduced a hazard into the workplace by their insistence on the wearing of safety glasses rule.

PPE is the last line of defence to a hazard. If the Main contractors removed the hazard, safety glasses wouldn’t have to be worn at all times.