What is hand protection worth to your organization? These hand injury statistics just may startle you.

Hand Protection, a Solid Line of Defense

Health & Safety Safety

Lack of hand protection leads to an incident rate of 12.7 and a median days-away from work of five. Is your organization putting an emphasis on protection?

Tuesday morning, 10:30 a.m.: “James,” Nathan calls out, “Can you hand me that cutter right there? I just need to open up these boxes and verify that our customer’s order is ready to go. Our courier will be here to pick it up in a few minutes.”

“Here you go, Nathan. Don’t forget to put on these cut-resistant gloves,” James replies, handing both over.

“This will just take a second. It’s not like I’m going to be cutting up boxes all day, and you know how critical the timing of this shipment is to our customer. I got this,” Nathan responded breezily.

Tuesday morning, 10:31 a.m.: “911, what’s your emergency?”

“My name is James. My co-worker just accidentally slashed the top of his hand with a box cutter. His injuries are severe — please send immediate emergency assistance.”

Lack of Hand Protection Can Cost You

Scenarios similar to Nathan’s play out all too often both at home and in the workplace. In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) reported that 40 percent of the 346,170, or 137,440, upper-extremities cases were hand injuries. These cases resulted in an incident rate of 12.7 percent and a median days-away from work of five. BLS also reported that in 2011, employers experienced 140,460 hand injuries tied to lost workdays.

The National Safety Council (NSC), in its 2016 edition of Injury Facts, reported that the average total incurred cost per claim in 2012–2013 for hand, fingers and wrist injuries was $22,384. Let’s put that in financial terms: Assume a $22,384 total incurred cost for a hand injury on a 5 percent margin. Your company will need to sell $447,680 worth of products or services to pay for that one injury. You are approaching $1 million of revenue generation at these rates to pay for two hand injuries.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that 11.3 percent of all U.S. emergency room visits in 2011 were from hand injuries. If we add that up, that is 4.7 million injuries. Because of this hand and wrist injuries are on par with back injuries in terms of median days away from work.

Hand Safety Solutions

A comprehensive hazard analysis program can help you identify the right gloves for the tasks carried out in your facility. Various kinds of gloves are available to protect a worker from the typical workplace hazards. These include mechanical, thermal, vibration, impact, biological and chemical hazards.

Disposable gloves are suitable for certain industrial and food service applications. Some gloves are built for general industry applications and are comfortable, durable and long-lasting. There are also gloves designed for wet and dry applications and use with a variety of chemicals. Most cut-resistant gloves/sleeves are designed to withstand dangerous environments.

Seeking the advice of a professional is a good way to select the right glove for the right job. A professional will consider many factors in the selection of gloves, including allergy sensitivities, types of hazards, environment, fit, comfort, duration of task and level of protection required. One type of glove will not protect your employees from all hand hazards, so consider investing in the right gloves for your employees.

J.A. Rodriguez Jr.
J.A. Rodriguez Jr.

J.A. Rodriguez Jr., CSP, is the CEO of Make My Day Strategies LLC and a global Fortune 100 senior manager. Rodriguez was honored to be selected by EHS Today Magazine as one of "The 50 People Who Most Influenced environmental, health and safety in 2012-2013" and "2014 - 2015."