Give Safety a Hand 


Think of all the tools you work with every day. Which would you say is the most valuable?

You may not realize it, but your most valuable tools don’t get put in a box at the end of the day. They go home with you. In fact, they go everywhere with you, because they’re attached to your arms. That’s right; the most valuable tools at your disposal are your hands.

Even with all the advances of modern technology, we still use our hands for the majority of our daily activities. We use our hands for so many tasks that sometimes, we take them for granted. When we fail to appreciate the value of our hands, we can put them in danger. Here are some ways you can protect your most valuable tools. 

Use PPE appropriately 

Follow your company’s rules for personal protective equipment use. You should wear protective gloves for many tasks, including handling hazardous chemicals, carrying materials with splinters or sharp edges, picking up hot objects, and using bladed tools such as box cutters or knives. Wearing gloves during these operations will protect your hands from cuts, burns and skin damage. However, you should remove gloves for other types of operations. For example, wearing gloves while working near moving or rotating parts on production equipment can increase your risk of being caught in the machine. 

Keep guards in place

Many machines are equipped with guarding devices. These devices are designed to prevent the machine’s moving parts from striking you or other employees. Do not remove, bypass, disable or modify any guarding devices on your equipment. Also, do not operate equipment with missing, damaged or bypassed guards. Operating unguarded equipment can put your hands at risk for crushing, lacerations and amputations. 

Lock and tag

Follow your company’s lockout/tagout procedures during any task that involves removing guards, reaching into a machine or climbing into a machine. To complete these tasks safely, you need to be certain that the machine is completely isolated from energy sources and cannot start back up while you are inside. While the specific lockout procedure will be unique to each task and piece of equipment, follow these general lockout/tagout principles: 

- Prepare for shutdown 

- Shut down the machine 

- Disconnect or isolate the machine from its energy source(s) 

- Apply lockout or tagout device(s) to the energy isolating device(s) 

- Release, restrain or otherwise render safe all potentially hazardous stored or residual energy 

- Verify the isolation and de-energization of the machine 

Discussion Questions 

1. Name one task for which you should wear protective gloves. 

2. True or False: Wearing gloves while working near rotating parts can increase your risk of being caught in the machine. 

3. What types of injuries could result from operating unguarded equipment? 

4. What are lockout/tagout procedures designed to prevent? 

5. Where should locks and tags be applied to prevent machine startup? 

Answers are here