Wind energy site safety: How to reduce hand injuries

Hand injuries are one of the most common injuries on wind energy construction projects. To lose even partial use of just one hand can be surprisingly disabling, yet hands can be taken for granted until injury occurs.

Complacency & hand injuries

Wind energy construction workers use their hands in almost every facet of  their work. This fact in itself breeds complacency. Though workers may be more aware of hand placement while conducting known hazardous tasks such as operating a saw, workers can be less conscious of hand placement for tasks without obvious hand hazards. Even the simple act of placing a hand on a surface to lean on – without first checking for sharp edges, debris, or potential moving materials and equipment – can lead to hand injuries.

Complacency abatement tips

Reduce complacency about hand hazards by:

  • Using each pre-task safety meeting to address hand safety
  • Making reminders during the day about hand safety
  • Ensuring that all job safety analyses (JSA) address specific hand hazards and abatement actions, including glove selection and use

Improper tool use & hand injuries

Most hand injuries are caused by the improper use and/or selection of hand tools.

Abatement tips for improper tool use

  • Choose and use the right tool for the job.
  • Use the safest tool for the job.
  • Inspect tools prior to use. Never use worn or broken tools.

Imbalance & hand injuries

Many hand injuries are the result of an automatic reaction to imbalance or instability issues, such as a poorly planned work platform or body position. When workers lose their balance or grip, their hands automatically react to catch them or what they dropped. These are unplanned events with little to no time to consider the hazards.

Abatement tips to imbalance

  • Require and use stable walking surfaces or work platforms for all employee tasks.
  • Require and use work tables, vises, clamps or other stabilizing devices.
  • Discuss hand and body placement in pre-task meetings and JSAs.
  • Practice consistently good housekeeping.

Bad hygiene & hand injuries

The hands are often victim to small, almost unnoticeable cuts. Such scrapes and scratches make hands susceptible to infection from touched materials, including dirty/sweaty gloves.

Hygiene tips

  • Wash hands often. Frequent hand washing is the most effective means to prevent infection.
  • Always wash and apply first aid to any break in hand skin, no matter how minor.