Let’s Cut out the Cuts

Lacerations from tools, knives or any sharp object can occur in any industry.  Lacerations may not result in a severe injury. However, if tendons or nerves are severed the trauma is far greater and the healing process becomes a lot more difficult.  

Lacerations occur quite frequently in some industries and although the cost of a doctor’s visit may not break the bank, consider some of the hidden indirect costs.  Lost time, production delays, clean up, insurance costs, potential personnel changes, etc… these costs do add up.

The elimination of lacerations starts with employee training and best practices.  Train all new staff on proper knife use, storage, and cleaning procedures.  For instance, don’t leave sharp knives in a drawer, cut away from yourself when using a knife, and never try to catch a dropped knife.  Sharper knives are easier and safer to use, so make sure you have a program in place to keep well maintained tools in the kitchen or other workspace.  Lastly, monitor the workplace for consistent use of these best practices and take corrective action immediately. 

There are a multitude of options for personal protection and innovative tools that can help reduce injury frequency.  First, let’s take a look at cut resistant gloves.  These gloves come in different styles and are rated for their cut resistance.  There are two testing methodologies for rating cut resistance and both have recently updated their testing protocols and better defined the ratings.  This will give employers a better understanding of what glove is the best choice for their workplace.  Check out this white paper covering the new testing standards from the folks at HexArmor.  But keep in mind that increased cut resistance often comes some loss of dexterity and comfort.

Let’s switch gears and look at razor knives.  Everyone is probably familiar with the old school box cutter or razor knife.  These are inexpensive but effective tools.  However, there are safer alternatives.  Here are just a few examples of safety knives with automatic retracting blades:

Knives and box cutters can certainly inflict serious injuries, but when the tool is electrically powered the injury potential goes way up.  Consider the kitchen meat/cheese slicer with the razor sharp rotating blade.  Best practices and employee training are absolutely critical to prevent injury when using one of these tools.  Check out our previous post from Pete Koch on the Seven Key Slicer Errors

Lacerations occur with other power tools as well.  Serious injuries can occur while using a circular saw, planer, joiner, or table saw.  Best practices are the key here as well, including the use of the blade guards or even a blade stopping technology as profiled in a previous Safety Net post. 

Selecting the proper PPE for the task at hand and using the proper equipment will help you reduce the likelihood of a workplace injury.  OSHA has information regarding a PPE assessment that includes hand protection and MEMIC policyholders can watch our webinar on the Safety Director.  The bottom line is that cuts are avoidable injuries when proactive steps are taken by all involved.  Let’s all do our best to cut out the cuts!