According to statistics from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 39% of the 330,000 medically-treated injuries attributed to manual workshop tools in the United States involved knives. That equates to approximately 129,000 workers in the US alone, requiring professional medical attention yearly due to improper use of knives. From state to state OSHA shows hand injuries/lacerations account for 8-12% of total lost time injuries, ranking 3rd behind Slips/Trips/Falls and Bruises/Contusions, respectively.
Don’t become one of these numbers.
To prevent accidents while cutting, emphasize these safe work practices:
- Always cut in a motion away from the body, and away from other people. This way, if the knife slips, it won’t cut the worker or a person standing next to the worker.
- Keep the other hand, fingers, and thumbs out of the way when cutting. Wherever possible, secure your work with clamps or other mechanical means. If you have to grip the object being cut, make sure to cut away from the hand.
- Wear cut resistant gloves when working with open blade cutting tools. Proper PPE can prevent cuts from both the cutting device and the material being cut.
- Stay focused on the cutting job. It only takes a second of inattention with a sharp blade to produce a serious cut. Letting the mind wander or talking with others while using a knife greatly increases the risk of an accident and injury. Make sure that when interrupted while working with a cutting device, you stop cutting, retract the blade, and place the knife down on a secure surface before dealing with the interruption. Never continue cutting while distracted!
- Handle cutting tools properly. Inspect your cutting tools before each use. Make sure that when you hand tools to another person you hand them handle first. Do not run with scissors – your Mom was right.
- Store cutting tools safely. Never, ever, leave a knife with the blade exposed on the floor, on a pallet, on a work surface, or in a tool box, drawer or cabinet.
- Leave your pocket knife at home. There is no job at the refinery where a pocket knife is the best tool for the job. You have the time to select and use the right tool for the job.
When cutting anything, the first question to ask yourself needs to be “Is this the best tool for this job?”
Too often we use the wrong tool (like a 6” open bladed knife or a Leatherman style multi-tool) because it is what we have handy rather than choosing the best tool for the task. These are the tools we should be using for cutting.
- Concealed blade cutters - There are a variety of cutting tools available where the blade is safely concealed. These are useful for cutting plastic sheeting, shrink wrap, paper/plastic sacks, cardboard, packing straps,
- Snips, scissors, side cutters, sheers, etc. – These tools are good for cutting plastic ties, cord, tape, wire, and similar items.
Self-retracting and shielded utility knives – There are some jobs where a utility knife is needed to make a precision cut (i.e., trimming gaskets). If a utility knife is the best tool for the job, use one with a self-retracting or shielded blade and use cut resistant gloves. This will minimize the potential for cutting yourself or others.
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Value the Health and Well Being
of Ourselves and Others
Wellness is not just the opposite of sickness; it's a way of life that shows you care enough about yourself to stay healthy. At CertifiedSafety one of our core values is to "Value the Health and Well Being of Ourselves and Others." Good living habits can prevent illnesses, reduce medical bills, make you feel more energetic so that you can participate in activities after work and help you live a longer, happier life.
Illness can result from too much smoking, drinking, drugs, junk foods, caffeine, and stress, and not enough exercise, rest, and good nutrition.
A good means of working against bad habits is to start a good habit—exercise! This can be done at any age. Exercise will help you keep your weight down without strict dieting, reduce stress and tension, and lessen your use of cigarettes and alcohol. It will also strengthen your heart, muscles, and bones, increase your energy level, and help you sleep more soundly.
You don't have to be an athlete to exercise. Walking is one of the best exercises you can do. You can walk almost anywhere, and no expensive special equipment is required. Walk outdoors in good weather, as the sunshine and fresh air will add even more benefits to the exercise. Walking with your spouse or a friend makes the time go by more quickly and pleasantly.
To get the greatest benefits and the fewest strains from exercising:
- Consult with your doctor before starting, especially if you have a chronic condition.
- Warm up before each session by stretching slowly.
- Build up your exercise time to at least 20 minutes per session 3 to 5 times per week.
- Don't overdo it. You should be able to feel you have worked your unused muscles but not be in pain or agony.
- Cool down after exercise with more stretching or a less exerting exercise after each session.
While it won't happen overnight, a program of exercise and more healthful living (without those bad habits) will make you look better, perform better at work, feel better, sleep better—and live longer.
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Good Working Positions
To understand the best way to set up a computer workstation, it is helpful to understand the concept of neutral body positioning. This is a comfortable working posture in which your joints are naturally aligned. Working with the body in a neutral position reduces stress and strain on the muscles, tendons, and skeletal system and reduces your risk of developing a musculoskeletal disorder (MSD).
The following are important considerations when attempting to maintain neutral body postures while working at the computer workstation:
- Keep your elbows at your side, tucked close to your body, and forearms parallel to the floor or tilted slightly downward (wrists slightly lower than elbows) to prevent nerve compression at your elbow.
- Use a chair that has good back support and position yourself close to the keyboard so that you don’t have to overextend your arms.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor or on a footrest.
- Keep your head and neck straight and facing forward.
- Keep your wrists in line with your forearms and not angled up or down or turned in or out.
Regardless of how good your working posture is, working in the same posture or sitting still for prolonged periods is not healthy. You should change your working position frequently throughout the day in the following ways:
- Make small adjustments to your chair or backrest.
- Stretch your fingers, hands, arms, and torso.
- Stand up and walk around for a few minutes periodically
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Hand Injuries Safety Tip
Hand injuries are a common workplace safety issue, which is not surprising since so much work is done with the hands. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, there are about 250,000 serious hand, finger and wrist injuries in private industry each year. In a recent year about 8,000 of these injuries required amputation.
Even a minor hand injury can get infected and lead to lost workdays, medical expenses and more serious health problems. The best way to prevent any hand injuries to your employees and to protect them against hand hazards is to follow one simple strategy: Provide employees with the right gloves for the job.
Here's what you need to think about when selecting gloves. In addition to identifying actual or potential hand hazards, you also need to think about such things as:
- How employees use their hands when they perform specific tasks
- How often and how long they perform those tasks
- How much manual dexterity is required for each task
- How great the risk of exposure is for each hand hazard
- How to ensure a good fit (because a glove that doesn't fit right won't protect correctly and may even create new hazards)
Considerations like these will help you determine the right kind of glove for each job that requires hand protection.
Then, all you have to do is match the glove to the hazards and conditions. For example, you might require employees to wear:
- Cotton gloves to keep hands clean, improve grip, insulate from mild heat or cold, and provide some protection from cuts and scrapes
- Leather gloves to protect against rough surfaces, sharp edges, objects that can cut or puncture skin, and sparks and heat that can cause burns
- Rubber gloves to protect hands from strong cleaning products and moisture, as well as to provide insulation when working with electricity
- Disposable gloves for protection against mild skin irritants as well as bacteria and viruses
- Chemical-resistant gloves (e.g., nitrile, neoprene, rubber, polyvinyl) to protect hands against hazardous chemicals (when the hazard is chemical, be sure to consult the MSDS for recommendations about glove selection)
- Temperature-resistant gloves to protect against extreme heat or cold
- Metal mesh gloves to protect against cuts and amputations when sharp instruments or objects are being handled
- Shock-absorbing gloves to protect against repetitive motion stress and vibration
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