This summer has baked gardens up and down the land and if you have done any significant work outdoors, the chances are you now wish you considered your hand care before you started.
Digging into sun-baked earth or pruning back scorched shrubs and bushes can be an arduous and uncomfortable task that without the proper precautions can result in hand-related injuries.
Protection and safety is important in all aspects of our work life, unfortunately because we see gardening as a leisure activity, we often neglect to treat it with the same sense of caution – even when there are power tools involved.
Never start a job without understanding what you are doing and what the risks are. Proper hand care is particularly important in the garden. The key to good hand care is common sense. Just because you might be out relaxing in the garden doesn’t mean you should throw safety precautions to the wind. Before you start each task, simply ask yourself, ‘What can I do to keep my hands safe?’
Following these precautions to avoid injury, pain, and discomfort:
Wear gloves when working outside
Wearing the proper gloves will not only reduce blistering, but will also protect your skin from fertilisers and pesticides as well as fungus and harmful bacteria such as botulism, which live in the soil. When exposed to soil, even the smallest cut or lesion runs the risk of developing into a serious infection. Leather gloves offer hand care protection from thorny objects; rodent and insect bites and other skin irritants in the garden. Gloves also prevent sunburn and fingernail damage.
Avoid prolonged repetitive motions
Unless you are preconditioned or accustomed to the activity, repetitive motions, such as digging, raking, trimming hedges, pruning bushes, or planting bulbs, may cause skin, tendon or nerve irritation. Make sure your gardening activities are varied and tasks are rotated every 15 minutes with a brief rest in-between so that the same muscles are not used over and over again.
When digging, watch for buried objects
Sharp objects and debris buried in the soil may cause lacerations or punctures. Use a hand shovel or rake rather than your hand, itself, for digging.
Use the right tool for the right job
Avoid accidents by using tools for their intended purposes. When purchasing pruners, loppers, or shears, look for brands featuring a safety lock, and keep sharp tools away from children at all times.
Use proper ergonomic posture
“Postures” refers not only to your whole body position, but also to such things as the angle of your wrist while using hand tools. Grip strength is at its maximum when the wrist is in a relaxed or neutral position.
Avoid products with form-fitting, contoured handles
Many tools are made with finger grips moulded into the handle to provide better slip resistance. These “form-fitting” grooves, however, only fit one size of hand perfectly. People with larger hands will find that their fingers overlap the ridges, causing pain, soreness, and calluses. Those with smaller hands will have to spread their fingers to match the grooves. Strength testing has shown that this spreading of the fingers significantly reduces grip strength, requiring more pressure to maintain control of the tool.
Hand care – don’t overdo it
As with posture. Know your limits and stick within them. There is no point working so hard that you damage your hands and muscles to the extent that you cannot sit back at the end of the day and enjoy the fruits of your labour.
If you found Hand care – happy gardening through dry weather helpful, you’ll find more tips for safe gardening techniques on our Gardening channel.Tags: Gardening, hand care Last modified: August 23, 2022