Knife Safety Training: A Life Cycle Approach

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Knife Safety Training: A Life Cycle Approach

When you think about the tools your employees use, the most common one might be the utility knife. Not only do you see it cutting everything in the workshop, from corrugated to trimming cord, but it's also in nearly every shipping and receiving office. With so many employees using these potentially dangerous tools, knife safety training is essential for every employee on your roster.

Getting employees to see the ongoing value of such training, however, is another matter. Everyone knows how to use a box cutter, right? Well, no. Because so many people use knives incorrectly at work, knife safety rules must be repeated regularly to every worker—even twenty-year veterans. Here's how to develop consistent training to mitigate the risk of employee punctures and lacerations.

Establish Utility Knife Safety Training for New Hires

When you're training new employees, you have a bunch of safety habits to instill. Investing in quality training early on has the potential to save both your company and the employee in the long run.

As you're setting up your training regimen for new employees, avoid making assumptions about what any given person knows about knife safety. Chances are, each person you train has had different experiences with utility knives. Your job is to build uniform procedures that get everyone using these ubiquitous tools correctly.

Start with something as simple as explaining the process of choosing the right tool to do the job. Someone who has grown up using scissors or a pocket knife to open cardboard boxes may need instruction about choosing a safety knife and using it correctly. Use videos like this one to inject a little humor and grab the attention of people who might otherwise tune out when they think they know the material.

Remember, too, that new hires aren't always young employees. Regardless of someone's time at another factory or in a different industry, they need to learn your way (the safe way) of using tools. To ease a new employee's transition to your company’s way of doing things, emphasize the unique circumstances of your facility that make your knife safety tips worthwhile.

Use Personal Interaction to Extend Training Into Everyday Discussions

Toolbox talks are a surefire way to make sure employees on the floor pay attention to safety. With a supervisor giving one-on-one mentoring, training feels more personal, and less like a requirement management has to meet. Unlike company-wide or whole-shift training presentations, toolbox talks also give employees a safe place to ask as many questions as they need and get follow-up with their manager.

Sometimes, though, great managers aren't the best speakers. To help them along, develop scripts or talking points that cover the basics of knife safety in the workplace. If you need a starting point, try this 5-minute toolbox talk from Palm Beach State. With the basics in hand, managers can customize the message to their natural speaking style and motivate their teams.

Many people learn by doing, so encourage your management team to allow time for demonstrations using safe props. Encourage employees to make their mistakes and learn during demos instead of facing painful consequences later.

Check in on Your Long-Term Employees

According to our analysis of OSHA statistics, employees are more likely to experience cuts and lacerations when they're new to your company. But their likelihood of overall injury also goes up the longer they work at a company. So, you have a couple of opportunities when you engage your seasoned employees: you can learn from them (for example, what techniques keep them safe from cuts on the floor?), and you can help them address other safety concerns.

As you're chatting with these veterans, ask them for utility knife safety tips they've figured out while on the job. Their hands-on experience with the corrugated, plastics and other materials unique to your work environment is priceless as you prepare training materials for new hires.

Thinking of utility knife safety training as an ongoing process helps your employees stay safe and your company avoid costly losses due to injury. Capture your employees' attention throughout their time at your company by revisiting training from different angles and integrating their feedback into future presentations.

Download our Safe Cutting Paper to reduce workplace injuries

Topics: Safety Training, Safety Tools and Equipment, Hand Safety

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