Product Focus: Safety tools/knives

Trends in ... safety tools and knives

Proper training ‘cannot be emphasized enough’

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The headlamp on a worker’s hard hat. The lanyard that prevents tools from dropping. The safety blade that smoothly slices through cellophane. These safety tools and knives – and countless more – not only help keep work processes running efficiently, they also help keep employees safe. Here, manufacturing industry professionals speak about what’s new in the field of safety tools and knives, and what workers need to know to stay safe.

Innovations

Safety knife technology has made great strides in reducing workplace lacerations, according to T.J. Scimone, founder of San Jose, CA-based Slice Inc. “These include alternative materials for the actual blades – such as safer ceramic versus metal – as well as safer ‘smart’ handle functionality that automatically retracts the blade when the handle loses contact with the material being cut,” Scimone said. However, he is quick to point out that no tool is completely foolproof. “Proper training and clearly written procedures that are developed and enforced by safety professionals are imperative for any effective safety program and the safety of the employees,” Scimone said.

In a joint email to Safety+Health, Dave Puglisi, executive vice president, sales and marketing for Pacific Handy Cutter Inc., and Andre Margaux, vice president, sales and marketing/new business development for the Irvine, CA-based company, spoke in depth about new technologies in the safety knife field. “Fixed-guard safety cutters, spring-back cutters, and cutters that feature tandem blade and guard movement for optimum protection are the major technologies being used in retail and industrial markets,” Puglisi and Margaux said. In addition, they noted that more ambidextrous safety knife options are available.

Stemming misuse

Too much blade exposure can lead to big problems. “Many operators will use the maximum blade exposure for all applications, which can result in damaged goods or injury,” Puglisi and Margaux said, adding that some users may attempt to override safety features. To combat these actions, they recommend stressing the danger of misusing safety knives, as well as promoting proper training, noting that proper training is critical and “cannot be emphasized enough in order to keep workers safe.”

Scimone pointed out that using the wrong tool for the job can be hazardous for workers. “Identifying all cutting applications being performed at a facility and specifying the correct tool for each application goes a long way in reducing lacerations,” he said.

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Protective clothing

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association