Tips for Keeping Hands Safe this Gardening Season

With Spring weather fast approaching, you may be thinking about venturing outdoors to garden. It’s a great way to enjoy the weather, get some physical activity and appreciate nature.

As enjoyable as gardening is, it still poses some risk of injury. In fact, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, more than 400,000 emergency room visits are attributed to gardening accidents each year. But with a few tips and proper safety techniques you can help to avoid one of these unfortunate injuries.

Gardening Safety Tips

  1. Wear proper gloves: Gloves will help to protect you from insect bites, infection, sunburn, cuts and blistering from tools. Soil, fertilizer and pesticides expose the skin to bacteria and fungus that can cause infection. Gloves also offer protection from insect bites, thorny plants, poison ivy, sun and prevent injuries like blisters from tool use.
  2. Use proper gardening tools and storage: Tools can protect your hands from digging in the dirt and cutting them on sharp hidden objects. Since gardening tools are sharp and can cause an accidental puncture, cut or scrape, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Safety locks, ergonomic handles and using the proper tool can help to protect your hands. Keep sharp tools away from children. Store tools properly when you’re finished using them.
  3. Avoid repetitive activities: Prolonged digging, weeding, snipping or shearing can injure the hand. Tendons and nerves are particularly vulnerable to repetitive strain injuries. Carpal tunnel syndrome, trigger finger, wrist tendonitis or lateral epicondylitis are some of the more common injuries we see. Gardening can be quite physical, so stretch beforehand, take frequent rest breaks and rotate positions often.
  4. Avoid heavy lifting: Avoid lifting heavy tools, plants or soil and use a garden basket or trolley to help move materials. Use both hands if you need to lift a heavy pot or planting soil, and make sure to take breaks. Alternate hands and avoid making a tight grip for a prolonged period of time. Use tools with a comfortable handle.
For more safety tips, visit The Hand Society or the American Society of Hand Therapists websites.   

If you need therapy for a wrist or hand injury and you need rehabilitation services, we’re here to help! Call 877-969-7342 to find a hand therapist at one of our 25 plus locations in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

Chelsea Baker

Occupational Therapist and Certified Hand Therapist
Penn Therapy & Fitness