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Toolbox: 10 rules for ten fingers

It has been estimated that in a given year there will be half a million accidents in which hands are severed, crushed, mangled, or burned.


Strict adherence to the ten rules listed below will greatly reduce the number of hand injuries.  These rules apply both on and off the job.


  1. BEWARD OF PINCH POINTS. Train yourself to recognize pinch points and avoid placing your hands and fingers in such hazardous spots.
  2. EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED. When using wrenches, persuaders, bars, and other hand tools with which you expect resistance, anticipate that the tool might slip or the object to which pressure is being applied may suddenly give way.
  3. INSPECT TOOLS. Check to see if they are in good condition and safe to use.  A wrench with worn or spread jaws, a mushroom-headed chisel, a worn screwdriver, or a hammer with a cracked handle are examples of defective tools, which are frequently the cause of injuries to hands and fingers.
  4. DO NOT WORK ON MOVING EQUIPMENT UNNESCESSARILY. If the equipment can be stopped, do so.  Working on moving equipment presents a real threat to hands and fingers.
  5. REPLACE MACHINE GUARDS FOLLOWING REPAIRS THAT REQUIRE REMOVAL OF GUARDS. The presence of machine guards is an important factor in keeping hands and fingers out of dangerous areas.
  6. BE MINDFUL OF EQUIPMENT THAT STARTS AUTOMATICALLY. Never work on such equipment without first de-energizing it and eliminating the possibility of automatic startup.
  7. DE-ENERGIZE ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT PRIOR TO WORKING ON IT. Flash burns caused by electrical equipment shorting out are an ever-present threat to hands and fingers when work around such equipment is being performed.
  8. BE MINDFUL WHEN CLOSING DOORS. Keep hands and fingers clear.  It is a safe bet that everyone has at one time or another caught a finger in a door.  Attention to detail can prevent this painful and sometimes serious injury.  Also, watch for children’s fingers in the family car.
  9. AVOID TOUCHING LINES OR EQUIPMENT THAT IS HOT. Every hot line or hot piece of equipment is a potential source of painful injury to any hand or finger that comes in contact with it.
  10. IF THE WORK BEING PERFORMED REQUIRES GLOVES, USE THEM.  Gloves offer protection from wood and metal splinters, caustics, acids, electrical burns, thermal burns, chemicals, and many other sources of injury.
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