Ever tried to tie your shoelaces with your thumbs taped to your palms? Or type with two fingers taped together? Give it a go. Newfound appreciation for your digits? Most likely.
It’s easy to forget how important hand dexterity is to performing even the smallest daily tasks. But it’s this reminder of how much we rely on our hands that makes Eldorado’s Hands Up for Safety initiative so effective.
Making hand safety top-of-mind
Hands Up for Safety was brought to our Tanjianshan mine in China by our Senior Occupational Health and Safety Manger, Jon Brown. It is an interactive initiative aimed at transforming the way we think about hand safety.
“We had been struggling with preventable hand injuries,” explains Jon. “So I was looking for a fun way to raise awareness of hazards and remind our guys of the importance of our hands.”
A hands-on approach
In 2014, the first Hands Up for Safety session was held with site staff at Tanjianshan.
The group was asked to split in half and select two volunteers. The two volunteers had their thumbs taped to the palms of their hands and were then asked to tie their shoelaces. The first volunteer to succeed won a prize.
“This got a lot of laughs,” says Jon, “But it clearly demonstrated how difficult simple tasks could be when dealing with a hand injury.”
After this powerful exercise, the group discussed hand safety statistics and ways to keep everyone safe.
To finish the session, the group created a commitment board to serve as a reminder of the importance of hand safety. Attendees had one hand covered in multi-coloured paint and left a handprint on the board. Everyone signed their name under their handprint as a pledge of their commitment to safety.
“It was a serious topic but it got everyone’s buy-in because it was fun,” says Jon.
The contest and hand painting made for fun team building, but they also served a serious purpose.
“The best part of the initiative is that we saw real results,” says Jon. “And not just in improved hand safety. We saw safety improve generally across the site.”
After the Hands Up for Safety group session, hand injuries at Tanjianshan decreased from 64% of all site injuries in 2013 to 31% of all site injuries in 2014. In 2015, Tanjianshan had only one minor hand injury – which did not result in a lost-time incident (LTI). In fact, Tanjianshan has not had an LTI for over two years now.
With its fun, interactive approach and excellent results, the Hands up for Safety initiative was a great success. It just goes to show that sometimes being playful is the best way to get serious about safety.
We’ll be discussing more ways we’re making our mine sites safer in the coming weeks. Check back soon!