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The Safety Knife - Don't Go to Work Without It

Apr 27, 2008
The reasoning is simple: If employees have access to a good, useable tool, they will use it, preventing potential injury and product damage. In all facets of today's workplace, the safety knife is making its presence - and use - known. Consider, emergency rescue personnel using a seat belt cuter to remove an injured child from a wrecked vehicle, or bakers opening bags of flour effortlessly with food-safe bag cutters. Imagine a disaster animal rescue team cutting string, debris, and plastic cording wrapped around injured wildlife after a flood.

Safety knives take many shapes and forms, but they have found a prominent place in almost every workplace. They are known as safety knives, safety cutters, utility knives, box cutters, hook knives, rotary cutters, and more.

In the retail and restaurant industries, the indispensable hand tool has been around for generations. Not just for boxes and cartons, the safety knife can be used in nearly any industry. Employers who provide access to the safety knife discover their employees keep these tools for their convenience and use.

Endless Features

Most employees do work that could be enhanced by a cutting tool made just for the job. While they may be largely unaware of the specialty features, employers or managers should consider what features will be most useful for their workers. The features available are too numerous for listing: blade and handle material; ergonomic features; shape, size, and strength of blades; blade replacement or quick change; blade dispensers; and blade disposable bins to maintain shop floor safety are just a few of the options available. This is a constantly changing field, and new items and features are available to employers regularly.


Consider what your employees will be doing and ask the following questions before purchasing safety knives:

1. Talk to seasoned employees about their needs. Ask for samples of various safety knives or other specialty cutters and let employees try them to see what works well. Listen to the feedback from your frontline users.

2. What weight of item is to be cut? Is it a multi-material situation, or are they cutting one material all day?

3. What position will employees be in when using the knife? Will he/she be cutting vertically or horizontally?

4. Are there moisture, corrosion, or electric hazards?
5. How often does the employee use the knife?

6. What special features does the employee need?

7. Is there an accident history with workers in this position using safety knives? How can a better selection of utility knives help reduce lacerations?

Safety Training

Long gone are the days of handing a new tool to an employee and letting him figure out how to use it. In order to reduce workplace injury, take full advantage of awareness and education items provided by utility and safety knife manufacturers and distributors. Training can include presentations, video, live training sessions, and literature, often in many languages. Most importantly, make sure employees understand blade replacement, the value of keeping a sharp blade at all times, and disposing of used blades correctly.

Following training and once safety knives and cutters have been placed with employees, document what is working and what needs attention and additional consideration. Ask for employee feedback.

Consider the following audit checklist on potential safety issues on which to focus:

1. Has your facility been evaluated by a competent person as to activities that can be enhanced by correct use of safety knives or cutters by employees?

2. Is there a designated place for employees to view training materials on using safety knives or cutters correctly?

3. Is the need for specialty knives or cutters evaluated on a regular basis by safety personnel as operations change or grow?

4. Is there a designated person responsible for the safety program dealing with hand safety, including cutting tools? Has a history of injuries been documented?

5. Is this person knowledgeable about laceration hazards and potential situations at your facility?

6. Is the equipment chosen by the workers and supervisors who use cutting tools, rather than chosen on the basis of cost?

7. Is the equipment evaluated and tested prior to purchase and compared with other like items for employee acceptance and usefulness?

8. Are employees advised to maintain a sharp blade through replacement as needed?

Involvement from employees on the choice and use of safety knives will promote an efficient and safe workplace. If employees have access to a good useable tool, they will use it, thus preventing potential injury and product damage.
About the Author
Safecutters Inc., provides an online store of utility knife box cutters for opening shipping boxes and shipping packages, as well as safety knives to open moving boxes and packages. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products contact us!
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