Watch your hands – You’ve only got one set


This is the eight post in a series of 25. Each post will be dealing with a shipboard work related issue and how to cope with it. Previous articles in the series has been about:

  1. Safe Manual Handling
  2. Preventing Slip, Trips and falls
  3. Toolbox Talks
  4. Lifting Operations
  5. Lifting Equipment
  6. Working at height
  7. Drug and Alcohol Misuse – The Effects



Your hands are the best set of tools you’ll ever be issued with and the only ones you can’t replace!


What is the problem?

Hand injuries are one of the most common injuries on board any vessel.

There are mainly two types of problem connected with hand injuries.

  1. You have put your hand in a position where it shouldn’t be, i.e close to rotating machinery’s or power tools;
  2. You have not used the PPE required/suitable to use for the specific task you performing at the time, i.e. opening a valve in an operation or in a pipe system that involves corrosive substances.

The above examples of injuries are not just things that happens. Today there must be a procedure and a risk assessment for all such operations on board a vessel. This means that the injured person have neglected the procedures, the procedures were not in place or of some reason he/she was not aware of them.

The result is the same, injured or even a lost hand, and the incident will be a part of the annual LTI statistics. If the person is really unlucky, it could lead to “not fit for work”, which of course affects the person’s living condition in a long run.


What is the solution?

There are some Do’s and Don’t to remember:

  • Do wear gloves or PPE as appropriate.
  • Do stop or rearrange the job if your hands are at risk.
  • Don’t put your hands where you can’t see them.
  • Don’t expose your hands to hazardous substances.
  • Don’t use tools for the wrong purpose – use the right tool for the job.

Always remember STOP -THINK – CHECK – ACT as this is a cornerstone within the offshore industry.



What are you about to do?

  • Do you know how to do it?
  • Do you know when to do it?
  • Do you need to tell anybody that you’re doing it?
  • Think about the risks to your hands:
    • jewellery, pinch points, sharp objects
    • stored energy, line of fire, hazardous substances


Have you made the necessary checks?

  • Is it too heavy? Is it too high? Is it too dangerous?
  • Do you need a permit to work (PTW)?
  • Are you using the correct equipment?
  • Have you got the correct PPE?
  • Is it safe to proceed?


If in doubt – STOP (and do it all over again)


  • Remove jewellery
  • Wear gloves whenever safe and practical
  • Watch where you put your hands