Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Knife and Hand Safety Review

Last week, one of my co-workers left work to get medical attention for a hand injury. He was stripping insulation from a large wire with a razor knife when his blade slipped and he hit himself in several places along his hand. He lost part of his fingertip, had cuts across his palm, and bled all over.

Behind this link is a NSFW picture of my coworker's injured hand. Note the chunk missing from his finger, as well as the cuts on his palm. While not crippling, it was a rather painful injury. In an attempt to keep all of our readers safe from similar injuries, now seems a prudent time to review knife and hand safety:
  • A pair of cut-resistant gloves, or at least sturdy leather work gloves, might have prevented all of my co-worker's blood loss.
  • Awareness of where your hand is in relation to potential danger points will also prevent the vast majority of injuries and near misses. If your hands aren't in a position to be hurt, injury is impossible.
  • Proper stretching won't prevent cuts, but it will prevent strains and sprains and other soft tissue injuries.
Basic knife safety rules also work wonders at preventing injuries. They were drilled into me at a young age by both my grandfathers and the By Scouts, but some folks didn't have those advantages. This video from Schrade Knives covers the topic thoroughly, but let's hit the high points.

Keep your knife sharp and clean.
A dull knife requires more force to make cuts, greatly increasing the chance of slipping and hurting yourself. They also make jagged, nasty cuts that heal more slowly and less completely. Dirty knives can lead to nasty infections if a cut occurs.

My coworker's knife was incredibly sharp, as the picture above shows; he had just put in a fresh razor blade. While the cuts are nasty, they're clean and should heal nicely.

Cut away from your body. 
A cutting motion that pushes away from your body ensures that your knife won't hit your body if you do slip.

Maintain and enforce a "Circle of Blood."
While you're keeping yourself out of harm's way, be sure to keep all other people outside of the reach of your blade. Hurting someone else is just as bad as hurting yourself. The "Circle of Blood" is any place your blade can reach, and you can find it by extending the hand holding the blade to its full length and then slowly turning in place. Teenage and preteen boys love the term, so it's very easy to get it, and knife safety, to stick in their minds that way.

Look out for yourself and anybody else in range.


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