Addressing how to prevent cuts is a vital part of safety training. Lacerations are one of the most common types of workplace injuries, especially in industrial settings, but also in less hazardous environments like offices. Thankfully, such incidents are largely preventable. Safety training plays an important part.
Know When to Use Box Cutters and Utility Knives
Box cutters and utility knives are staples in tool belts, with each suited for a variety of media, ranging from shrink wrap to corrugated boxes and more. Both are a convenient size for carrying and for storage, feature varying blade lengths, and are available in fixed- and retractable-blade options. While use may overlap with these two types of cutters, there are jobs that are better suited for one than the other.
As the name implies, box cutters are particularly well suited to open boxes. The Slice box cutters with their ergonomic J-hook design are designed for easy use. The limited blade depth of these cutters slices only through your single- or double-walled corrugated box, and not through to the product inside. This saves merchandise from getting damaged.
Utility knives tend to be slightly more versatile, with a beefier design and a bit more maneuverability. Slice utility knives offer a longer blade length to create a deeper cut.
When discussing ways to prevent cuts, make sure to emphasize that workers must use the correct tool for the job at hand.
One approach to this in your meetings on how to prevent hand cuts is to demonstrate proper use of an assortment of tools. Show off their unique features. Also teach employees the differences between steel (and standard ceramic) blades, which are overly sharp out of the box and dull quickly—both times when they’re particularly dangerous—and finger-friendly® Slice ceramic blades.
Slice blades last up to 11 times longer than steel counterparts, which means greater value and fewer blade changes. Handling a replacement blade is another instance when laceration danger is high.
The Safety & Health Council of North Carolina's "Hand Safety in the Workplace" webinar reports that there are more than 1,000,000 hand injuries per year, which is why blade safety remains so important.
The Particular Danger of Power Cutting Tools
Motorized cutting tools are particularly dangerous, so safety is paramount when handling tools such as a chainsaw. Before even picking up this tool, an employee needs to put on proper PPE.
Along with wearing protective equipment, including slip-resistant footwear, make sure the space is free of objects that may shift or roll and cause you to be distracted. Always inspect your power cutter before you turn it on; be mindful of chain tension and sharpness, and that your chain break is in good working order. During use, immediately shut off the saw if you notice unusual vibrations or rattling. To prevent kickback, cut the power if your blade gets pinched in the cut.
When giving a presentation on how to prevent cuts and lacerations in the workplace, videos like this one about "Tips for Avoiding Chainsaw Kickback" can be useful teaching tools.
How to Prevent Cuts? Training, Safety Review, and Attention to Detail
When evaluating hand injury statistics and laceration lessons from OSHA, it's clear that safety training needs to be reviewed for employees at all levels of work experience. In fact, more experienced employees may be the first to forego the fine details of safety because they are so comfortable with the job.
Employees need to always follow lockout/tagout procedures for tools such as presses, saws, and electric shears. They also need to follow pre-use protocol to the letter. This may sound obvious, but consider that improper machine guarding results in almost 18,000 wounds, ranging from lacerations to amputations, and over 800 deaths per year, as reported by OSHA. This a completely preventable when precautions are taken.
Prevent Cuts by Avoiding Potential Hazards
Use the following potentially hazardous factors as talking points for how to prevent cuts in a lab or warehouse and stay safe:
- Audio, visual, or mental distractions
- Heat exhaustion
- Slippery, dirty, or obstructed surfaces
- Cluttered work areas
- Rushing through tasks
- Other accidents that occur during shifts
- Insufficient training
- Poor visibility
- Not paying attention during setup or operation
Instill Confidence When Teaching Cut Prevention
It is a huge task to prevent all workplace injuries, albeit that is always the goal. The more confidence and awareness you instill in your workforce when training about how to prevent cuts, the greater the chances for success.