Introducing safety knives into the workplace is one of the easiest ways to reduce cut injuries, but with so many options available, where do you start?
Choosing the right safety knife can be an overwhelming task. To assist you in choosing the right safety knife you first need to determine what the cutting task is, what type of materials are being cut, how often the cut is being performed and in what environment, as well as the level of safety and knife features you require. Working with the user is the ideal way to determine these factors.
- What is your cutting task?
There are a wide and varied array of cutting tasks and many are specific to different workplaces. The cutting tasks most often found in the workplace are opening boxes, cutting cardboard, removing strapping and shrink wrap, cutting tape, slabbing material off rolls, cutting textiles and film, opening bagged goods and more.
- What type of material is being cut?
From strapping, cardboard, shrink wrap, tape, film and bags to yarn, foam, leather, carpet, rubber and fleece. If you have a material to be cut a safety knife can be found to cut it.
- How often is the cut being performed?
From users who make intermittent cuts to users who cut all day, when a worker is using a knife all day fatigue can start to set in. Your safety knife needs to be ergonomic and lightweight yet strong and durable enough for all-day use. Blade quality is also important. A cheap, poorly made blade will force the user to put more pressure on the cut, increasing the risk of injury and dulling the blade faster. A higher quality blade means less effort and longer blade life.
- What environment is the task being performed in?
Although most working environments are similar, there are certain environments that are highly sensitive. For example, food preparation and pharmaceutical industries may find metal detect safety knives are useful as contaminants entering the production process can lead to serious damage to machines, product recalls and, at worst, injuries to customers.
- What level of safety is right for you?
A very important factor to consider when choosing a safety knife is what level of safety you require. There are three main levels of safety knives – concealed blade, fully automatic blade retraction and automatic blade retraction. Concealed blade knives offer the highest level of safety with the blade being shielded from the user and the goods. Fully automatic retractable knives offer a very high degree of safety and are the safest exposed blade knife as the blade automatically retracts even when the user keeps their finger on the slider or the trigger is squeezed. Automatic blade retraction knives offer a high degree of safety and are reliant on the user removing their thumb from the slider.
- What features do you require?
The main feature of safety knives is the integrated safety features listed above but there are also many cosmetic differences. For example, many safety knives now feature a trigger slider as opposed to a slider mechanism to engage the blade. Also, there is plastic versus metal body knives, tool required versus tool-free blade change, disposable versus replaceable blade, long blade extension versus short blade extension, and many other options. Although it is important to get the right features to fit the users’ preferences, it’s equally important to avoid getting overwhelmed by this step in the selection process. There are many combinations of safety knives and it isn’t reasonable to procure a specific knife for each operator based solely on his/her preferences.
Now, that you have chosen the right safety knife it is time to integrate it into your workplace. As with any change in technology, training is an important step in the process of implementing safety knives and, arguably the most important step. Training your employees on proper operation, blade change, safe storage and maintenance of their safety knives will help ensure an easy transition and minimise the chance of incorrect usage and prolong the life of your investment.
If you require assistance in choosing the right safety knife the customer service team at MARTOR AUSTRALIA are available to discuss your needs. As well as providing advice we can provide training materials to assist you and your workers with safety knife integration and training.
For more information contact us on 61 3 5940 4476
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