It’s easy to take your hands for granted. Whenever you want to use your wrench or screwdriver, you just reach out and grab it without having to think about it much.

I never thought I’d lose that ability. But I did, and it happened in an instant.

I was standing at the back of a transport truck that had just pulled away from the dock. The open rear door caught the wind and started to slam shut. Without thinking, I tried to stop it with my hand and the door slammed right on it. My bones didn’t break, but an exposed piece of metal sliced through my tendons, leaving me permanently disabled.

Hand Safety

Whether it’s to steer a car, hammer in nails, or type on a computer, almost every job involves the use of your hands. If your hands get damaged, chances are you won’t be able to stay in the same line of work.

One bad hand injury and it’s game over.

What’s worse is that your hands can be harmed in multiple ways. The four common types of hand injuries are:

  • Traumatic Injuries Catching, pinching, or crushing the hands or fingers. Punctures or abrasion of skin. Bone fractures.
  • Contact or Permeation Injuries – Chemical burns or tissue injury through contact with corrosive liquids, solvents, acids, detergents, flammable liquids, and other substances.
  • Repetitive Motion Injuries – Musculoskeletal disorders that come from repeated hand movements over time.
  • Thermal Injuries – Burns, blisters, or frostbite from directly handling substances or surfaces with extreme temperatures.

Tips for Keeping Hands Out of Harm’s Way

Sometimes, dangers to the hand can be obvious, like when working with corrosive chemicals. But other activities can be overlooked. Digging with a shovel doesn’t seem like a risk to your hands, but it can deliver shocks, vibration, abrasion, muscular fatigue, and cause repetitive strain injury.

Employers must:

  • Review and comply with regulations set out by local occupational health and safety organizations pertaining to activities and tools used.
  • Collect expert opinion from workplace safety specialists with experience in physical workplace dangers. For example, are gloves needed to open and close a chain link fence? While many workers don’t think twice about doing this with bare hands, the answer is yes. Since it is a work-related surface, it should be handled with gloves.
  • Conduct thorough ergonomic reviews of activities that may lead to long-term, repetitive strain, or abrasion injuries. Lifting boxes is mostly thought of as a hazard to the employee’s back, but boxes can contain sharp items or caustic fluids that can come into contact with the worker’s hands if the packaging is damaged.

Workers should:

  • Assess the the potential for long-term harm from work activities. For example, using a keyboard and a mouse is easy, but the wrong-sized mouse or wrong desk angle can lead to carpal tunnel injury
  • Use the hand protection you’ve been supplied, even if it seems inconvenient at times. The right safety gloves can protect your hands from impact, cuts, and contact with chemicals – don’t work without them.
  • Be mindful of pinch points. When working with machinery and other equipment, be sure to keep your hands away from its moving parts to prevent them from being pinched or crushed.
  • Pace yourself when working. Rushing through tasks can increase the risk of careless mistakes and puts you at risk of musculoskeletal injuries.
  • Give your hands a break when they need them. Typing and other low-impact activities might seem harmless, but doing them for too long can cause issues. Take short breaks to avoid ergonomic injuries.


Employers must regularly assess the tasks workers perform to ensure the procedures are as safe as possible. Every manual task that involves the hands must have a correct method or technique – nothing should be left to chance. Momentarily grasping something that is sharp, rusty, hot, or caustic can have long-lasting negative consequences.

Look carefully, question everything, and work fast enough to get things done yet slowly enough to stay safe.