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Hand protection in agricultural settings

Fri, Sep 16th, 2011
Posted in Agriculture

With Farm Safety Week coming up September 18-24, I started thinking of possible farm safety topics that I haven't covered. I decide to start by looking at topics that had been covered in recent years.

Here are some of the topics from past news columns; Handle Your Anhydrous Ammonia Safely, Combine and Tractor Fires, Grain Bin "Drowning", Age Appropriate Tasks for Children, It's not all bad news in Farm Safety, Parents and Farm Safety, Farm Safety Day Camps, Tractor Safety Training, Washouts Erosion Cause Additional Harvest Hazards, It's Farm Safety Week - Take a Nap!, The Loose Nut Behind the Wheel, and Toxic Air in a Manure Pit.

Just as I was working on this column I received notice of a webinar from Purdue about Hand Protection in Agricultural Settings. Usually, when we look at farm accidents, we look at cause, ATV, tractor rollover, or PTO shaft. In this case they were looking at what is injured! 22 percent of injuries are hand injuries; this is the most common type of injury.

I immediately thought of my Grandfather Tesmer, he lost a finger and thumb in a corn shredder many years ago, and how common hand injuries are. All you have to do is look at older farmers and see hand injuries.

In agricultural settings (e.g., farms, ranches, forestry, and aquaculture), the hands, wrists, and fingers are the body parts most likely to be injured at work, being at particular risk for bruising, lacerations, contact dermatitis, and frostbite. In addition, tasks involving the hands, wrists and fingers, including the use of power tools and hand tools, are associated with increased risk for cumulative trauma injuries of the upper extremities, which may be disabling.

Appropriate hand protection reduces the risks of injury and disability, whereas inappropriate hand protection may have adverse effects on health, safety, efficiency, and productivity.

Main causes of occupational injury to the hands are: Chemical, (e.g., irritants and sensitizers); Biological, (e.g. parasites, microorganisms, plants and animal materials); Physical, (e.g., exposure to hot or cold temperatures, UV/solar radiation); and Mechanical, (e.g., friction, abrasions, vibrations, lacerations and contusions.

The National AgrAbility Project explored such topics as: gloves and barrier creams, choosing appropriate hand protection for: environmental hazards, vibration hazards, cut and bruise hazards, and chemical hazards.

The presenter was Robert W. Stuthridge, the National AgrAbility Project's Ergonomist and has worked in rehabilitation ergonomics since 1995. If you would like to see his PowerPoint presentation, it is available at: http://agrability.org

I believe the bottom line message is the most common injuries are hand injuries; look for ways to protect your hands.

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