Are Laceration Injuries Cutting Into Your Bottom Line?

By: Paul A. Satti, Contributor

Electrical safety professionals cannot afford to lose focus on the all-too-common occurrence of skin lacerations in the workplace. Seemingly every year, these injuries top the list of OSHA-reported incidents by local contractors. The resulting pain is not only physical, but financial, as well.

Electricians are required to use their hands in an expert, coordinated way to grasp and manipulate objects. They must demonstrate precise movements when testing, stripping, bending, twisting, and pulling. Oftentimes this results in punctures of the skin that inhibit individual motor skills and jobsite productivity. Employees and employers suffer the consequences – an estimated $50 thousand per incident.

Due to the likelihood, and cost, of these injuries, it is recommended that contractors implement policies and procedures related to cut-resistant hand gloves. This product is available from many manufacturers that use advanced technology and materials to protect electricians from sharp edges. The gloves are functional, too, and offer innovative features to improve grip, fit, and dexterity.

The ANSI/ISEA 105 (2016) standard addresses the classification and testing of hand protection for specific performance properties, such as cut resistance, puncture resistance, and abrasion resistance. There are several glove categories that are compliant with the standard.

An effective hand-injury prevention program begins with a thorough understanding of the construction environment and the PPE required to ensure safety. Employees should be involved in the decision-making process by allowing them to experiment with different makes and models. This will familiarize them with the options available and help them to overcome resistance to use gloves in the field.

Lacerations are preventable. Cut-resistant products represent a common-sense approach to decreasing the frequency of skin punctures among electricians. It is in the best interest of all parties involved to utilize the best equipment and practices that preserve a healthy workplace. ESW

Mr. Paul A. Satti, M.S., is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and Certified Electrical Safety Compliance Professional (CESCP). He is Technical Director for the Chicagoland Construction Safety Council (www.buildsafe.org) and Instructor for the National Safety Education Center (www.niu.edu/nsec) – one of 26 OSHA-authorized Education Centers nationwide.