Product Focus Product Focus: Safety tools and knives

Trends in ... safety tools/knives

Know the facts and stay focused

For some workers, safety tools and knives are indispensible items. Experts from companies that manufacture these products spoke with Safety+Health via email about current trends in their respective markets, as well as some important things product purchasers and users should know.

Dave Puglisi, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Irvine, CA-based Pacific Handy Cutter Inc., pointed to the wide variety of products that exist. For example, in the area of safety knives, covered blades, auto-retracting knives and auto guards are available. However, he said, buyers should be aware of “pseudo safety tools that have the name but not the functionality,” such as a “so-called safety cutter that can be used without engaging the safety guards.”

Regarding tool lanyards, John Salentine, vice president of Ventura, CA-based Hammerhead Industries, said customers are becoming more interested in manufacturing quality and load-testing abilities. “It has been evident to us that safety engineers are realizing that when the need for the highest level of safety and productivity is paramount, budgets for tool lanyards need to be slightly increased,” Salentine said.

Use the proper equipment

Salentine noted that people often choose a lanyard without first ensuring it has the proper rating for the job at hand. Additionally, he said, “there are no standard requirements for manufacturers’ lanyard ratings. Some lanyards barely meet their indicated load limit, while other lanyards are tested to exceed their indicated load limit." Salentine recommended asking, ‘What is the safety margin that has been built into the tool lanyard?’ before choosing a lanyard.

Puglisi said problems with safety knives arise when employees bring their own cutting tools – which have not been approved – into the workplace. “This places them and others around them at risk,” he said.

What is the most important thing a worker should know about safety tools and knives? Laura Wissman, vice president of sales and marketing for The Safety Knife Co. LLC in St. Louis, highlighted the importance of blade replacements for safety knives. “When a blade dulls, employees will tug and strain the knife bodies, damaging the knife,” she said. “If a knife breaks, an otherwise safe, unexposed blade will become an even larger threat, as the worker may not realize the blade is exposed until it’s too late and they have a costly laceration.” Wissman asserted that an effective blade-changing system will reduce workers’ compensation claims from lacerations.

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association