20 workplace hand safety tips

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 102,350 nonfatal workplace hand injuries in 2020. That equated to 8.7% of all the total nonfatal injuries recorded within the private sector during that time.

As a quick refresher, OSHA’s PPE standard outlines requirements for adequate hand protection equipment. It says that employers must require workers to use hand protection around hazards like harmful substances and sharp surface areas. It also says that required PPE should be specific to work tasks and conditions.

1910.138(a) General requirements. Employers shall select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when employees' hands are exposed to hazards such as those from skin absorption of harmful substances; severe cuts or lacerations; severe abrasions; punctures; chemical burns; thermal burns; and harmful temperature extremes. 1910.138(b) Selection. Employers shall base the selection of the appropriate hand protection on an evaluation of the performance characteristics of the hand protection relative to the task(s) to be performed, conditions present, duration of use, and the hazards and potential hazards identified.

Overall, these regulations are relatively straightforward and open to each site’s discretion. But aside from using providing the right PPE, you should also develop habits that protect your hands.

If you need some inspiration, here are 20 hand safety tips to share with your team and coworkers to keep safety front of mind.

Clothing and hygiene

  1. Keep nails trimmed to no more than a quarter inch long.
  2. Wear sleeves that stop at the wrist area, avoiding oversized shirts with sleeves that can pull hands into unwanted areas.
  3. Choose gloves that fit correctly and have the necessary features (grip, chemical resistance, etc.).
  4. Take off accessories like rings, bracelets, and watches before starting work tasks.
  5. Replace PPE when it becomes worn out, and do not reuse single-use PPE over multiple shifts.


  1. Always cut away from the body, including hands.
  2. Keep hands and fingers clear of any moving machinery parts.
  3. Double check that the lockout tagout process has been followed before using any piece of energized machinery.
  4. Only place hands in designated areas, avoiding unknown spaces or areas where it’s difficult to see.
  5. When lifting objects, make sure to form a C-grip and use both hands when appropriate.
  6. Rotate hands and arms accordingly without twisting into uncomfortable positions.
  7. Perform hand stretches before, during, and after each shift to ensure dexterity and prevent repetitive strain injuries.
  8. Before activating high-powered machinery, check to make sure the surrounding area is clear of electrical hazards, other workers, etc.
  9. Instead of using hands to load materials into machines, use reach tools instead.

Tools and equipment

  1. Check to make sure that all emergency stops are accessible and functioning before starting work.
  2. Never use equipment that is damaged or broken.
  3. Use tools that are appropriate for your hand size and dominant orientation (right or left).
  4. Audit the work area to double check that machine guards are placed in the correct position and are secured.
  5. Perform regular preventative maintenance on everything from conveyor belts to hand tools.
  6. When not in use, store tools so they don’t create a hazard and/or interfere with the workspace.

If you liked these hand safety tips, you might like our warehouse safety tips post or fire safety tips as well.