Canadian Occupational Safety

January/February 2021

Canadian Occupational Safety (COS) magazine is the premier workplace health and safety publication in Canada. We cover a wide range of topics ranging from office to heavy industry, and from general safety management to specific workplace hazards.

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Page 12 of 47 13 F E A T U R E GETTING A GRIP ON SAFETY Hand protection is a key component of worker safety and is an essential piece of PPE. A huge market, it can be difficult to navigate and figure out the right fit. Here is everything you need to know Statistics Canada, in 2003, the hand was the body part most frequently injured on the job, with more than one quarter (28 per cent) of work injuries being to the hand. This was followed by lower back injuries (16 per cent). According to the 2003 data, the most frequent type of occupational injury to the hand is sprain or strain, followed by cuts and then fractures. Looking at more recent data from Statistics Canada, the most common types of injuries sustained at work are sprains and strains (49.9 per cent), followed by cuts, punctures or bites (19.2 per cent) and broken or fractured bones (8.7 per cent). The 2018 data from the National Work Injury/Disease Statistics Program (NWISP), shared by the Association of Workers' Compensation Boards of Canada (AWCBC), shows that the trunk (which would include the lower back) accounts for 91,415 lost time claims in Canada, followed by the upper extremities (which would include the hands), which account for 54,075 lost time claims in Canada. While the data may be slightly confusing, it is evident that hands are among the most injured body parts in Canada. As we can see, most occupations are affected by hand-related hazards and, as such, it is important for employers and workers to understand what hand protection is and how to correctly use it. What is hand protection and what is it for? We shall mainly be focusing on gloves, but hand protection can also include PPE such as finger guards, barrier creams, etc. It can also be used with arm protection such as sleeves or coverings. A recent U.S. Department of Labor study found that injuries to fingers and hands made up 23 per cent of workplace injuries. The Department of Labor study says that hand injuries rank the highest in preventable injuries. The study found that the majority of employees who suffered hand injuries were not wearing gloves at the time or were wearing the wrong type of glove. Backing this up, a recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) study found that 70.9 per cent of hand and arm injuries could have been prevented by using appropriate PPE — notably, safety gloves. According to Princeton University's Office of Environmental Safety, different types of gloves protect against different types of hazards. It identifies four main types of gloves currently available: • Gloves that protect against wounds such as cuts, burns or punctures. For these types of injuries, leather or canvas gloves were initially touted as a solution. Now, industry insiders say that cut-resistant gloves made of engineered yarns are the way to go. "There are lots of standards to make sure the product is right. Within those standards, you have to make sure that all of your products are tested and respect those stringent guidelines." Kwan Lo, Taste International GLOVES have been around for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. A recent article from National Geographic reports that utilitarian gloves have been around since Ancient Greece. Indeed, Homer mentions characters wearing gloves to protect from brambles in his epic The Odyssey. National Geographic states that gloves became more common in Medieval times and were certainly worn by workers, with knights and warriors wearing metal gauntlets or chain-mail for battle or blacksmiths wearing leather gloves for smithing. Gloves have been a constant throughout history, from factory workers in the Industrial Revolution to doctors and surgeons in the late 19th century. And that's probably for the best because, in the workplace, hands are among the body parts most at risk of injury. Indeed, workers' hands face a number of hazards: cuts, abrasions, heat injuries, chemical burns, carpal tunnel syndrome, etc. According to 2019 statistics from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), the most common workplace injury in Ontario is to multiple body parts. (From 2007 to 2016, the most commonly injured part of the body was the lower back.) In 2019, injuries to body parts made up 15 per cent of allowed lost-time claims (followed by the lower back at 13 per cent). This same report indicates that sprains and strains are the most common injury for all parts of the body. Looking at earlier reports from MORE HAND AND ARM PROTECTION Finger guards can be used in kitchen settings to protect from cutting and chopping Barrier creams form a barrier between the skin and contaminants, can be used to protect against solvents or acids Protective sleeves and coverings can be used to protect against various hazards such as cuts, sparks or chemical burns Finger cots Latex or nitrile finger cots can be used to cover open wounds and some kinds of cots can also be used to protect from cutting

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