Every year, the most preventable frequent injuries are lacerations. Approximately 30% of all workplace injuries are lacerations, from minor cuts to deep wounds. The vast majority of those laceration injuries - more than 70% - are to the hands or fingers. At EnPro Industries, lacerations are the most common injury reported every year. We must always remain vigilant to prevent these injuries from occurring. No laceration is a minor injury.
Monday Laceration Hazards
Laceration hazards can lie just about anywhere; some more obvious than others.
By its very nature, metal can be sharp, either intentionally or unintentionally.
- Straight Blades – razors, knives, swords, lawn mower blades
- Saws – Serrated edges used to cut wood, plastic or metal
- Shearing – Scissors, cutting machines
- Metal billets – Purchased in cube or cylindrical form which can have sharp edges or corners
- Metal product – Metal objects not built to cut can still have sharp edges
- Metal scrap – In chip or turning form can have very sharp corners or edges not unlike a razor blade
- Metal burrs – Raised metal pieces after cutting metal that can cut or puncture like a sliver
Remember to move your focus from metals to other, usually overlooked, laceration hazards.
- Blunt feeling tools, such as screwdrivers, cutting wheels
- Belt sanding paper and grinding wheels
- Plastic Sheets
Tuesday More Laceration Hazards
- Point of operation – area where material is being processed
- Power transmission – belts, gears, and chains which can move very fast
- Material handling – as discussed yesterday, the metal being worked can have sharp edges or corners
- Inadequate guarding – lacking or inefficient guarding to protect operator
Another overlooked danger is the pinch points which can result in laceration with blunt force causing skin to fail
- Pressing and stamping devices
- Getting finger caught between strap and a heavy object being lifted by that strap
- Door jambs
- Heavy crate lids
Which place is safer – work or home? What changes can you immediately do to make both places equally safer?
Wednesday Reduce the Risk
Conduct a Risk Assessment (JSA/JHA) – The Job Safety Analysis (JSA) process is a valuable tool to help you analyze a process and determine what needs to be done to make it safer. Once complete, you should achieve the following goals:
- Identify all the laceration risks
- Identify the hazard which is causing the laceration risk
- Determine the method to manage the laceration risks
- The level of control measures needed:
- Elimination, Substitution, Engineering, Administrative, Behavior, PPE
Procedures: Incorporate the results of your risk assessment into the procedures and be sure to conduct training before it goes into operation. Be sure to review the risk assessment yearly to see if any new hazards have materialized since. Enhance safety with the following:
- Develop visual aids to remind the operator of the hazards and safe practices
- Ensure good housekeeping and utilize the 5S process
- Find and purchase safer tools
- Develop good habits
NOTE: Risk Assessments are all inclusive. Even though laceration hazards are only mentioned in relation to the subject this week, a Risk Assessment is meant to discover and manage ALL hazards: ergonomic, trip, abrasion, burn etc.
Thursday Examples of Safer Alternatives
Companies involved in the safety industry are developing safer alternatives to traditional tools used in manufacturing, maintenance, and in your home life. Taking suggestions and comments from their customers, they are constantly making improvements to make them more practical without sacrificing safety.
Safety knives come in different levels of safety compared to the traditional knife. Below are those levels listed from the least safe to the most safe:
- Level 5 – Manually retractable and fixed blade knives (traditional) containing no safety features.
- Level 4 – Manually extended and retracts once user releases extending tab. Safety feature overridden.
- Level 3 – Blade automatically retracts after use. Safety cannot be overridden.
- Level 2 – Concealed blade cutter preventing unintentional contact. Safety cannot be overridden.
- Level 1 – Nonmetal blade cutter made of hardened plastic. Safety cannot be overridden.
Alternatives aren’t restricted to just knives. Some other examples you can watch out for are composite bands to replace steel bands. Look into blade safe tape guns to replace those with a permanently exposed blade.
Friday Treasure Hunt
Take a few moments this morning to look at your workstation for possible laceration hazards that may have been overlooked in the past. As soon as you get home today, look for the same laceration hazards. Which place is safer – work or home? What changes can you immediately do to make both places equally safer?
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