Trends in ... safety tools and knives

Pay attention

By Tracy Haas, editorial assistant

Safety knives may look simple, but this tool has advanced over the years more than one might think. “Safety cutters have evolved in many different directions since the 1950s flat box cutters,” said Dave Puglisi, executive vice president for Costa Mesa, CA-based Pacific Handy Cutter Inc. “Today’s safety cutters incorporate fixed guards; spring-back, non-exposed blades; and auto-retracting design features.”

Carl R. Cottrell II, national accounts manager for OLFA, based in Rosemont, IL, said that in the past two years, products have been introduced that not only prevent lacerations, but also help protect packaging contents. “Automatic safety knives have also been developed per input and recommendations by safety professionals,” Cottrell said. “Automatic knives are designed so that the blade will still retract even if the user has left their thumb in the forward position on the blade slide.”

However, worker misuse of safety knives can still occur, for which Puglisi offers some basic advice. “Pay attention to what you are doing. When cutting with a razor tool, always look at the cut line. Don’t look away or enter into a conversation or anything that can distract you,” he said. “Finish the cut; then you can move your attention to something else.”

Cottrell cautions that lack of training can contribute to worker injuries. “There are instances where employees, using the original type of self-retracting safety knives, [misuse] the knives,” he said. “It is important that safety training be provided whenever a new safety product is put into place, even if the safety product is a knife. It is also important to confirm that the right knife has been selected to accomplish the cutting tasks.”

To prevent injuries, Cottrell advises both employers and employees to take the time to understand the applications of a specific safety knife before using it. “There are different types of safety knives, and no one knife is perfect for every application,” he said. “If someone puts a plan in place for their employees to use a safety knife, they need to make sure that the knife selected will allow their employees to still complete the task effectively.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

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