Death by papercut. Help?
October 7, 2007 1:41 AM   Subscribe

I work with paper. A lot of paper. How do I avoid getting papercuts all over my hands?

Specifically, my job involves charts - the sort you always see plastered up on the walls of elementary school classrooms. Huge pieces of paper. Sometimes in stacks, sometimes in singles, and they always have to be moved from one point to another.

I need something more than just those tiny tip-of-the-finger finger gloves. At the same time, I need to maintain the fine motor skill of picking out single pieces of paper. And not terrorize the customers of the retail store with horrific Frankenstein-ish hand coverings.

I thought of using the sort of rubber gloves that are always available in chemistry labs - but I can't go around leaving powder from the gloves all over the charts.

I'm just tired of endlessly getting cut. No, I don't want to quit my job. Yes, I am being very careful. No-one else at my job knows how, because I'm the only one who works with open pieces of paper. Anyone have any solutions?
posted by Xere to Work & Money (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Get powderless gloves.
posted by grouse at 2:01 AM on October 7, 2007

You should be able to get latex gloves at most drugstores or places like Wal-Mart, Target, etc.

If you have problems with latex look for vinyl or nitrile gloves. Nitrile gloves come in cool colors.

Maybe if you have dry skin that might be aggravating the problem and some kind of hand lotion will help? I also advise changing the gloves several times during the day if you're going to be wearing them constantly.
posted by sevenless at 2:38 AM on October 7, 2007

Nitrile gloves are what you might prefer using. They're powderless and I find them to be more comfortable than latex. And they DO come in cool colors!
posted by louche mustachio at 3:08 AM on October 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

those tiny tip-of-the-finger finger gloves

Are you talking about finger cots?
posted by Martin E. at 4:31 AM on October 7, 2007

If you do have to use bare hands, one key is to keep your hands moisturized. Many papercuts start by the paper getting under a microscopic flake of dry skin, then as you move your hand... YOUCH!!!! (I work with plotters and copiers.)
posted by The Deej at 5:25 AM on October 7, 2007

If you dislike the sweat buildup from using non-breathable gloves, I like using archivists' thin cotton gloves to handle paper. They don't interfere with dexterity and are easier to slip on/off than latex gloves. They can also be reused again and again without the gross "eww, I'm sticking my hand into a sticky moist glove," issue that non-breathables have.
posted by jamaro at 7:22 AM on October 7, 2007

I always find latex and even vinyl gloves to leave behind a chemical smell on my hands, powdered or not. Though finger cots don't sound so bad, it only protects your fingers.

So I just use a heavy duty hand-cream or a heavy duty lotion that's oil based (they're going to be more effective than the non-greasy stuff). A lot artists who work with clay often favor cocoa butter, because it's especially great at replenishing hand oils that the clay absorbed.

Plus the powder from the gloves is probably aggravating the papercut problem, because it's absorbing moisture from your hands.
posted by deinemutti at 7:30 AM on October 7, 2007

Definitely agreeing with the others on keeping your hands moisturized. Just working with all that paper dries them out like whoa, which starts a vicious cycle.
posted by sugarfish at 8:01 AM on October 7, 2007

I worked in a bindery for a year or so, and one of the first things they taught me was to take hold of or release paper deliberately; never slide your hand along the edges, just grab and release. Obvious, I suppose, but keeping that in mind made it easy for me to figure out what I'd done wrong when I did cut myself, and I broke the bad habit quickly.
posted by jon1270 at 12:25 PM on October 7, 2007

I use these at work. Similar to the finger cots, but with little nubs to grip the paper better.
posted by mabelcolby at 3:33 PM on October 7, 2007

Keep your hands moisturized. I had this problem when I worked as an invoice clerk handling bajillions of pieces of paper each day. Neutrogena was the solution for me.

(Just as an aside, paper cuts are so much less bad than cardboard cuts. Yeouch!)
posted by meditative_zebra at 3:42 PM on October 7, 2007

Finger condoms! Little tiny finger pads made out of rubber. I helped plan a conference every year and getting to wear the finger condoms was always my favorite part!
posted by thebrokenmuse at 7:46 PM on October 7, 2007

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