There was an unfortunate report in the news recently about a worker whose hand was completely severed in a work related accident, despite wearing work safety gloves. This highlights yet again the importance not only of safety equipment, but perhaps more the fact that safety equipment should be verified as both fit for purpose and appropriate to the task. Unfortunately errors were made in this case, and it is worth highlighting what those errors were in order to provide advice on how to protect either your employees, or yourself if you work in an environment where work safety gloves are necessary.
It is easy to assume that by wearing or providing safety gloves your hands and wrists are automatically protected against most risks. This is not the case, and there are many examples where actually wearing gloves can heighten the level of risk, or actually introduce risks which may not otherwise have been present.
In this particular case the problem was that the gloves were too lose, and were made of a material which did not tear or cut easily. What happe
ned was that the looseness of the gloves resulted in the material being caught by the sharp teeth within the shredder. Because the glove did not tear, it was pulled into the machine, and the worker was unfortunately unable to pull his arm out of the glove in time to save it.
There are two main things to consider when looking at work safety gloves. The first is how will they fit, and the second is what specific risks they have been designed to protect against, and conversely, what risks they may not be ideal against.
If your work glove is too tight this will inevitably restrict the movement of the hand, but it will also restrict blood flow and ultimately cause nerve damage. This may be only temporary, but on a regular basis can result in permanent loss of feeling in the hand. Through the course of a full working day if a worker is required to wear gloves which are just a little too small their hand will feel uncomfortable and they may end up becoming clumsy; their lack of dexterity could result in an accident occurring.
But if the glove is too loose as in the example mentioned previously it is very easy for the glove to get caught on or in machinery. Today work safety gloves have been designed to combat a wide variety of different types of risk, many of which are either very specific, as well as there being gloves designed to protect against specific combinations of risks.
It is important to analyse carefully exactly what the risks are which need protecting against, and to look at the gloves being considered, and identify from the information provided which risks they are designed to protect against, and which they are not. Unfortunately in this particular case had the gloves provided been the right size, and had they been designed to protect against crushing and not tearing it is possible that the worker may have been able to save all or some of his hand.
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