In construction, exposed hands and skin are susceptible to physical, chemical, and radiation hazards. Personal hand/skin protection is often the only practical means of preventing injury from:
• physical hazards—sharp or jagged edges on materials and tools; heat; vibration
• corrosive or toxic chemicals
• ultraviolet radiation.
For physical hazards such as sharp edges, splinters, and heat, leather gloves are the preferred protection. Cotton or other materials do not stand up well and are recommended only for light-duty jobs.
Vibration transferred from tools and equipment can affect hands and arms. One result may be hand/arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). This disease causes the following changes in fingers and hands:
• circulation problems such as whitening or bluish discoloration, especially after exposure to cold
• sensory problems such as numbness and tingling
• musculoskeletal problems such as difficulty with fine motor movements—for instance, picking up small objects.
Workers who use vibrating tools such as jackhammers, grinders, riveters, and compactors on a daily basis may develop HAVS. Preventing this disease requires cooperation between employers and workers.
• Provide power tools with built-in vibration-reducing components.
• Review exposure times and allow rest breaks away from vibrating tools.
• Ensure proper tool maintenance (worn grinding wheels or tool bearings can lead to higher vibration levels).
• Train exposed workers in prevention techniques.
• Provide anti-vibration gloves.
• Wear appropriate clothing in cooler weather to maintain core body temperature.
• Wear gloves whenever possible.
• Wear anti-vibration gloves when using power tools and equipment.
• Avoid smoking (smoking contributes to circulatoryproblems).
• Report any poorly functioning tools immediately.
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