You've reviewed your company's safety issues and drafted a comprehensive strategy. You've created safety checklists and trained supervisors to give excellent toolbox talks. As part of your regular audit process, you're probably looking for better equipment to keep employees safe, too. With cuts and lacerations in the top three workplace injuries, the best utility knife blades can make a real difference in your overall safety performance.
But how do you know which ones are best for your company? Effectiveness is extremely important for meeting production goals, but when it comes to safety, sharpness and durability are paramount.
Choose the Right Level of Sharpness for Safety
When it comes to utility knives, training materials for workplace safety reinforce the idea that sharper is better. This is because dull knives need more pressure to work and are prone to slipping. The trouble is, ultra-sharp steel blades are also a sizable danger for lacerations and cuts—particularly when your employees are replacing them frequently to keep from using dull blades.
"Hard as steel" may sound impressive, but as minerals go, steel is soft. Slice uses a material called zirconium oxide for its ceramic blades, which ranks 8.2 on the Mohs scale of hardness compared with steel at 4.5 Mohs.
Why does this matter?
It means that steel dulls quickly, and manufacturers need to sharpen it way beyond effective levels just to extend its life expectancy. This workaround sacrifices worker safety, as steel blades start dangerously sharp and pose a significant hazard for skin.
Because Slice's high-tech ceramic material is much harder (and therefore very slow to dull), it doesn't need to start out sharper than necessary to maintain a reasonable working life. In fact, independent third-party tests have proven that Slice blades—even though they don't start out dangerously sharp—keep their edge up to 10 times longer than the top utility knife blades made of steel. This means fewer blade replacements, which cuts down on the opportunity for accidents.
Another advantage of zirconium oxide's edge retention is that it allows for Slice's patented finger-friendly safety grind. The sharpest part of a Slice blade is the micro cutting edge, but a secondary grind helps prevent skin penetration by reducing the area known as the "initial cutting zone". Traditional steel blades have an initial cutting zone that runs the entire depth of their single grind. Slice's cutting zone is only as deep as it needs to be to cut your material.
What About Replacing Blades?
Steel blade edges leave your employees more vulnerable to cutting themselves—not just while they work, but when they're replacing blades, too. Slice blades are so safe to handle that you don't need a sharps box to dispose of them (also a significant cost saving). Compare the processes between replacing the blade in a traditional utility knife and a Slice cutter.
The best utility knife replacement blades for safety will switch out easily and reduce the risk of cuts. Notice not only how many steps it takes for steel, but also how exposed those hands are to the sharp cutting edges of the blade. In contrast, here's how to change the blade in a Slice Auto-Retractable Utility Knife.
Avoid Interactions With Your Products and the Elements
While cuts and lacerations are always one of your top concerns, you also have to consider how well your utility knives perform around your product. Steel blades don't make the best utility blades for general industry work. They rust, they're attracted to magnets and they can interact chemically with their cutting material. Slice advanced ceramic blades do none of those things. They're chemically inert, so you can expose them to any number of acidic or corrosive materials. They don't spark, conduct or respond to magnets. So whether your tools come in contact with sensitive computer parts or must work in the elements, ceramic blades keep both workers and materials safe.
Who Makes the Best Utility Knife Blades for Safety?
Of course, we're a little biased about this. You need to consider the best utility knife blades for your application and also look at the handle style of your tools. Retracting blades are almost always safer and most companies, including Slice, offer multiple handle styles. Slice's most important innovation is that we're the only company to take safety design into account when creating the blades themselves.
How can I successfully implement new safety initiatives?
How do I get buy-in from management and workers?
What’s the best way to build trust and rapport?
Should EHS be a C-Suite position?
We explore these questions and more on the Safety Labs by Slice podcast. Check us out using the links below.