Summer is here, which means it’s a busy time for construction workers. If you’ve ever worked on a construction site, you know that there are many safety hazards: people and machinery moving around, noise, power tools, and often exposure to the elements. With so much going on around you, it’s easy to lose your focus. When you’re not paying attention, injuries can happen.
Why Is This a Problem?
- In 2022, more than 1 in 4 time-loss claims received by the WSCC came from construction, trades, or adjacent industries.
- More than half of hand injuries in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut occurred in the construction industry.
- Fingers, arms, and upper extremities were injured in more than 20% of the claims received by the WSCC last year.
In the construction industry, hands can suffer many types of injuries. In the most serious cases, incidents can result in permanent loss of functionality, or even the amputation of a hand.
Common types of hand injuries include:
- Burns and scalds: can be caused by hot steam, fire, electrical sources, or chemicals.
- Cuts, punctures, or crushing injuries: can come from the use of power tools, tools such as scissors, or getting your finger caught in a closing door.
- Fractures or breaks: can occur due to a fall, by being hit by an object, or by getting caught in machinery.
- Sprains: if you are using tools that are too big, too small, or in an awkward position for your hands and arms, it can cause a musculoskeletal injury.
How to Prevent Hand Injuries
A serious hand injury can drastically affect your everyday life. Think about the ways you use your hands every day: from holding your morning cup of coffee to helping your child cross the street.
Always protect your hands while working with the proper safety equipment. This includes safety gloves that are designed to protect against the most common hazards in construction work. Safety gloves come in a wide range of materials, including leather, rubber, and Kevlar. They can be specifically designed to protect against lacerations, punctures, chemical exposure, and more. Gloves must fit properly, and not have any tears or holes.
As an employer, take precautions to help reduce the risk of serious workplace injuries that could follow your employees for the rest of their lives, like:
- Look at your workplace and clearly identify all risks relating to hand injuries.
- Identify ways to reduce the risk of hand injuries. Some examples include ensuring cutting equipment has appropriate guards, training workers to use tools safely, and making sure workers have the right PPE for the job.
- Keep a clean work site. Remember to regularly remove unnecessary sharp objects such as tools, scrap metal, and stray nails.
- Train employees to recognize hand safety hazards, and understand how to prevent them.
Most importantly, have a proactive safety program that encourages open communication, regular safety audits, and ongoing training to keep workers informed and protected from all injuries.
To learn more about hand injuries and how to prevent them, check out:
- Hand and Arm Protection – a Code of Practice on PPE for hand and arm injury prevention.
- Knives and Sharp Tools - Young Workers Toolbox Talks – Instructor and Student
- Hand Tool Ergonomics – a guide created by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS)
- Hand Injury Toolbox Talk – Video (available in English, from WorkSafe Saskatchewan)
- When to wear Gloves - Video