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* Hand Protection *

    Let's take a minute here to talk about your hands. How would your life be affected if you lost a finger?  Not Much? A lot?  How about if you lost your thumb?  No problem you say? Try using any tool effectively without your thumb. What if you lost a hand? Or both hands? I heard of one person's grandfather who lost both of his hands and forearms in a farming accident when he was a kid. While he was a remarkable and successful man, there were many things that people with two good hands take for granted that took him years to master. Like eating with a fork, (he refused to use prosthetics), or dealing from a deck of cards. What would you do if you lost your hands? Think about it. It probably would not be what you are doing now.

    Accidents don't just happen, they are caused by not paying attention and by not thinking of what can go wrong before it goes wrong. I am sure that you can think of instances in your own life where you or somebody you know or love was injured because of these simple reasons. The grandfather who lost his hands as a young boy did so because he didn't shut down the threshing machine before he tried to unclog it. You may be shaking your head and thinking that you would never do such a thing. But how many times a day do you do something that could result in an accident to yourself or those around you? Someone, somewhere suffers an injury every single day, every single hour and probably every minute.

    The  construction trades, agricultural and manufacturing industries are especially prone to hand injuries. There are rough materials to handle, objects to be stacked and stored, tools to be utilized, equipment to be operated. All pose special risks to hand injury. To come up with a list on how to protect your hands in each and every situation would be impossible. The list would be never ending. Each new advance in technology also advances the opportunities for people to damage their hands and they will, be it by operating a 100 ton press or testing a circuit board.

    People usually approach their tasks "at hand" in one of two ways: they either don't think of safety at all before they jump into the task or they think that they "won't or "can't" hurt themselves. Wrong. They will. If not today then most likely sooner than later. Do the smart thing: Before you begin a project, or take up a tool, or start a piece of equipment, think of the accident that CAN and WILL happen unless you make sure that it doesn’t. Apply the "what if" criteria of safety to what you are doing: What if...the knife slips while I am stripping this wire? Will I cut myself? What if...the screw driver slips off this stubborn screw I'm trying to remove from this box in my hand? Will I punch the screwdriver through the palm of my hand? What if...that pallet of material falls off the fork lift while I am holding this gate open? Will my hands be crushed?

    Keep your mind on your hands. "Hand Safety Sense" is just plain ol' "Common Sense"...use yours BEFORE you loose yours. If your co-worker seems to be lacking in common sense then use yours BEFORE they loose theirs. Keep your mind on safety first and your hands will continue to provide you with a way in which to achieve your personal goals.

* Always Keep Safety At "Hand" *

We welcome comments about this article, and your requests for future topics.

    If you have a specific topic you would like to see covered here or one you may need for your company, please send an Email to our Tail Gate Safety Topics editior, Dave Miller at demiller@pacificemployers.com or to peinfo@pacificemployers.com. Thanks!

Copyright 1999 by David E. Miller