Hand And Finger Injuries

Take steps to prevent the risks.

The hands and fingers are among the most frequently injured parts of the body in the compressed gases industry. Because of this, GAWDA’s Safety Committee decided to look into the problem and develop recommendations members can use to reduce these types of injuries. The committee has produced what we believe are the four leading causes of hand and finger injuries. We have also identified control measures for each. It is believed that by effectively implementing the prescribed actions, a reduction in hand and finger injuries can occur.

Fingers caught between two cylinders or other stationary objects such as walls, doorways, truck bed, etc.

  • Consider the use of cylinder carts when the movement is 10 feet or more.
  • As a minimum, promote the use of cylinder carts.
  • Eliminate congestion in fill plant and docks. Make sure doorways are clear and aisles are wide enough to provide proper hand clearance.
  • Properly train the employee on how to approach the cylinder(s), where to place hands, and how to use the cylinder cart properly.
  • Select the right cart for the job. There are many other carts to choose from.
  • Properly maintain the carts and remove defective carts from service.
  • Require the use of gloves.
  • Audit for compliance.

Hands and fingers suffer cuts during scraper blade changing and the removal of cylinder labels.

  • Consider not allowing window type razor scrapers. Select the safest tool possible.
  • Require the use of gloves.
  • Train employees on proper use of the tool.
  • Observe employees to ensure the tool is used properly.

Holding the liquid cylinder ring and fingers get caught if the cylinder slides off the hook, catching fingers between the ring and the cart.

  • Select the right cart for the job. Look for a cart with an adjustable hook and pneumatic tires.
  • Liquid carts must be properly maintained and removed from service if any defects exist.
  • Employees must be properly trained in the safe use and proper hand placement when using carts.
  • Require the use of gloves.
  • Audit for compliance.

Cuts on hands in maintenance type activities.

  • Use the proper tool for the job.
  • Remove defective tools from service.
  • Always cut away from the hands and body.
  • Place hands in proper position.
  • Require the use of gloves.

Keep Accident Records
What is your hand and finger injury history? You need to know what your experience has been to help determine the time and resources you might want to commit to reducing these types of injuries. This is where good accident record keeping becomes important. You may want to identify someone in your organization to look at your five-year hand and finger injury history and focus on these questions:

  • How many hand and finger injuries have I had, including first aid cases?
  • How serious were they? Break them down between first aid, medical treatment, restricted work and lost time cases.
  • What were the costs associated with these injuries, both direct and indirect?

Another important factor to consider is the likelihood of these types of injuries.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
Meet the Author
GAWDA OSHA & EPA Consultant Thomas W. Eynon is senior associate at B&R Compliance Associates LLC, based in Merritt, North Carolina. Members can reach him at 252-249-1351 and at tom.eynon@brcompliance.com.