Thursday, December 8, 2022

How to avoid hand and finger injuries in the workplace?

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These are good times to work in the shipping and warehouse sectors of any factory. The industry It is moving towards a paradigm in which safety is the priority, and one of the biggest concerns has been how to avoid injuries to hands and fingers.

Thanks to this concern, new models of cutters and other cutting tools have appeared, designed with the operator’s safety in the first place, although without neglecting efficiency and practicality, necessary to maintain competitiveness. We will see below a practical guide on how to avoid hand injuries by taking advantage of these new technologies.

traditional cutter

How to avoid hand injuries: roadmap to a safe workplace

Good work practices are not advice to put on a bulletin board that employees will see in passing; These are recommendations and habits that make the difference between a routine work day and another with serious accidents.

There are four accident catalysts: distractions, lack of prior training, lack of personal protective equipment, and tools unsafe.

distractions

Warehouse or shipping work can be monotonous at times; perhaps not as much as shop floor work, but the risk of accidents occurring due to operator distraction due to the monotony of their routine remains high.

The best way to combat this problem —which is a very frequent cause of accidents— is to create a flexible work schedule, oriented to objectives and not to meet schedules. Allow the employee to organize his day in such a way that the same work routine is never repeated every day.

Whether the job involves opening boxes to remove the contents and sorting, or if it involves shipping tasks where products are packaged and tape or some other product such as plastic mesh is cut, it doesn’t matter: let the person or team in charge of such tasks will take breaks every half hour of work. Remember that there is no worse enemy than torpor or dullness caused by repetitive tasks.

Box opening with Cutter

Box opening with Cutter

Lack of training

Another factor that contributes to accidents is lack of training. If the operator does not know how to avoid injuries, it may be that the operator suffers an accident while performing his daily tasks.

Training, even when it comes to something as simple as opening a box with a cutter, is a fundamental part of good work practices. You should never put an inexperienced operator to work without first training him in the tasks he will perform. Keep in mind that the training is not only knowing how to open that box, but also knowing the tools with which you will work (especially the risks associated with their use). A trained operator will not be afraid of tools, nor will it be reckless or reckless.

Lack of personal protection elements

In a warehouse it is possible to see operators working with the wrong clothing —even street clothes— and what is more serious: without the personal protection elements indicated for their tasks.

In shipping and storage it is essential to work with at least steel-toed boots, a helmet and mottled gloves; optionally, and according to the type of product to be shipped or received, eye protection and masks. But mainly the feet and hands should be protected, especially the latter. Why? Simple: when working with manual cutting tools, such as cutters, the hand is the most exposed to accidents.

unsafe tools

In the field of dispatch and deposit work, we find different tools and characteristic tools: scissors, adhesives, pencils, foxes and, of course, cutters.

The cutter is a tool omnipresent in the industry, but which finds its most intensive use in shipping and storage. It is also there where it is the greatest cause of accidents, due to the three points that we have seen previously. Is it possible to improve this tool to make it safe? Yes.

A few years ago, different manufacturers began to design cutters that would answer the question of how to avoid hand injuries due to cuts. The final product – the safety cutter – varies from model to model, but basically they are cutters that focus on protecting fingers and hands, moving them away from the cutting edge in the simpler designs, or positioning that edge in such a way that very difficult to cut any part of the body with it. Let’s look at some of those models in detail.

safety cutter

safety cutter

Cutters with self-retracting blade

Within the safety cutters, they are the cheapest, but they offer an important advantage over traditional models: the blade is not permanently exposed, and it only does so when cutting some material. If left exposed when empty, the blade automatically retracts, thereby significantly reducing the risk of cuts.

Micro edge cutters

Another interesting approximation is provided by models with ceramic blades with a reduced edge, which they are capable of cutting cardboard, paper, plastic and other materials, but not skin. They are extremely safe for warehousing and shipping work, and respond remarkably well to the problem of how to avoid hand injuries.

Cutter with Microfilo

Cutter with Microfilo

Ergonomic self-retracting

They are a more advanced option, and offer an extra measure of protection by forcing the user to place their fingers out of reach of the blade. Like the others, they do not cause any type of impediment with respect to the cutters traditional; it is possible to work with the materials that a cutter common.

Self-Retracting and Ergonomic Cutter

Self-Retracting and Ergonomic Cutter

Final recommendations

  • Always buy the same type of cutter: that way you will need less training to train employees in its correct use, and you will not have problems due to lack of spare parts.
  • Use micro-edge cutters for box-opening tasks, and self-retracting edge cutters for packaging or tasks where you need to cut through thicker materials.
  • Always use mottled cotton gloves on your hands: although they do not directly protect against cuts, they do prevent slipping due to sweat.

  • Establish a work routine that avoids monotony: your employees will appreciate it, and you will see that, contrary to what you might believe, it increases productivity and motivation in the team.
  • If possible, set up rotating tasks among staff; In this way, no employee will work mechanically, thus avoiding accidents due to distractions.
  • Replace cutters or cutting blades that are defective or worn: a tool dull is a potential catalyst for accidents.

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