Tower Hands’ Hands Are Part of Their Toolbox

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It you asked for a show of hands at a meeting of tower climbers, you might see a variety of anatomical configurations. Kathy Gill, President of Tower Safety & Instruction, has, over the years, worked with climbers missing a finger, or with serious hand injuries.

“In one incident,” Gill said, “a climber was rigging at 300’. 

The equipment was being lifted into place by a crane and his right pinky finger was crushed, forever dislocated and will always have long-term arthritis. Another student was lifting a ring mount into place and his index finger was smashed between the monopole and the platform; he cut it off with his knife.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 20 percent of workplace injuries involve cuts and lacerations to the hand and fingers. OSHA 29 CFR Part 1904, Injury and Illness Recording and Reporting, notes fingertip amputations regardless of bone loss must be reported to OSHA within 24 hours.

What can a company do to reduce finger injuries, prevention and reduce the risk of hand accidents? Below are a few tips Gill offers at her safety class:

Toolbox Safety tips:

  1. The use of gloves and perhaps brightly colored for awareness
  2. Attempt to keep hands out of lifting operations or off loads
  3. Clearly identify pinch points.
  4. Do not allow employees to wear jewelry (rings and watches) while performing tasks.
  5. Limit the use of adjustable wrenches; they tend to slip, increasing the opportunity for hand or finger injury.

Lacerations, amputations, punctures, dislocations and fractures occur with tower hands daily without companies taking much notice, Gill said with most of these injuries occurring while rigging with injuries falling in the “caught between objects” category.  As a result, Gill said the tower industry needs to place an emphasis on keeping hands and fingers from being injured.

May 31, 2019

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