Safety Check

According to a 2006 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 23.2 percent of all occupational injuries to wrists, hands and fingers resulted in time away from work. The construction industry accounted for 47.5 percent of all hand injuries.

Three years of injury records at Kiewit Corp. show that hand injuries are common here. I knew Kiewit wasn't the only company encountering hand injuries, but I was concerned about our employees and how these injuries were affecting them and their families.

Construction workers' hands are their most valuable and used tool, and therefore are exposed to a variety of hazards. The preconceived notion in the construction industry is that hand injuries are inevitable, but a good hand injury prevention program can help to change that perception.

Typically, the first thing that comes to mind for hand injury prevention is to wear gloves. However, wearing gloves is only one part of a good hand injury prevention program.

Hand injuries can and will be prevented when workers are engaged in a program that asks them to:

  • Think about where they place their hands, anticipate the potential results of their actions, and place their hands accordingly.
  • Avoid pinch points under, around, and between moving objects.
  • Use tools as described by the tool manufacturer—with all the supplied guards and handles installed properly.
  • Always select and use the proper tool for the required task.
  • Select gloves that match the task to be performed.
  • Watch out for each other and communicate hand hazards.

 

Hand injuries can be prevented in the construction industry, but it takes more than wearing a pair of gloves.

-Eric Grundke, Corporate Safety Director, Kiewit Corp.