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Do You Know the Three E’s of Hand Protection Management?

Bing! My email chimes as I receive an Outlook reminder. Usually, they alert me to upcoming conference calls or a task to be completed. This particular message reads, “OSHA Violations.”

At 9 a.m. on the first Monday of each month, I receive a recurring reminder to check the OSHA Enforcement web page for violations. It is a sobering exercise I started years ago that displays a list of OSHA-cited companies and details their penalties and fines. The list is not just isolated to small- and mid-size businesses; it is littered with Fortune 500 companies and the gruesome misfortunes that occur to their employees.

This particular month I read a dozen incidents that resulted in injuries to the hands and arms. Gloves are the most common form of PPE, yet the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports more than 100,000 lost-time hand injuries annually. Open any MRO catalog and you will be deluged with hand protection options that offer thousands of combinations of materials, lengths, dips and degrees of protection.

My question is: Why is a topic that saturates our industry still a leading cause of work-related injuries? There are three areas I have experienced which contribute most frequently to these violations.

Education

I once received a call from a safety manager at a production facility that employs over 1,000 workers. He wanted to increase the cut level of their gloves as they had experienced numerous hand lacerations.

I asked him a couple exploratory questions regarding the cut level and the scale of the gloves he was using: ANSI/ISEA or CE certifications (he wasn’t familiar with the difference) and what tasks were being performed when the lacerations occurred (he wasn’t sure). Knowing the hazards within a facility and understanding the “how” and “why” are pivotal aspects of a successful safety program.

Ideally, an employer first will do everything he can to completely remove a hazard; PPE should be the final step to protect the worker. Once the determination is made that PPE is to be used, proficiency in the selection process is critical. There are some aspects of which to be aware:

Innovation – It seems that every time I get acclimated to a new phone or device an updated and improved version is released that renders mine obsolete.

Innovation is not unique to the technology sector; glove manufacturers continuously are developing new materials, dips and coatings that allow for better protection, comfort and durability. You weren’t content in keeping that flip phone – why keep antiquated technology in your safety program? Learn about new tech and innovations when it comes to your employees’ hand protection.

Best practices – One of the benefits of working for an industrial safety distributor is the diversity of industries, companies and people with whom I get to partner. I have insider knowledge about how hundreds of companies run their safety programs. There are a lot of innovative, successful safety practices that can be duplicated in other facilities and industries.