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Working Safely With Utility Knives and Box Cutters

Dec 6, 2007
Thousands of workers are injured each year using box cutters. To avoid injury or damage to inventory, retail workers should use caution when opening boxes and checking freight. Here is a quick guide to safely when opening a carton with a box cutter.

While working with freight and opening boxes, always keep a box cutter with a sharp blade handy. Set the carton on a flat, steady surface. Examine the box to determine the thickness of the cardboard. Thin cartons require less pressure to cut.

Caution should be taken not to damage the contents with the box cutter.

Place one hand on the box. Use the other hand to firmly hold the box cutter.

Begin cutting with the box cutter blade angled slightly upward and away from the merchandise. Cut away from your body and as close to the top of the box as possible.

Additional Tips:

With each cut, be sure that your body and clothing are not in the path of the box cutter and you should also heed the following points:

- Always wear safety glasses when using utility knives. Blades can snap off unexpectedly.

- Always use sharp blades. Dull blades are a safety hazard, requiring more force to make the cut, which can lead to tool slippage.

- Always pull the knife toward you when cutting, and make several passes when cutting thicker materials.

- To prevent slippage, make sure blades are seated properly in the knife.

- Never leave a utility knife unattended, especially with the blade exposed

You can choose from several different types of utility knives including the following:

Retractable Blade Utility Knife

This is a general-use tool designed to cut materials such as drywall, cardboard cartons, laminates and plastic. The blade retracts into body of knife for safer operation and storage. Some models have up to 3 different blade positions for different cutting depths.

Higher-end models have rubber grips and ergonomic designs for better gripping. The handles on these knives generally unscrew or swivel open to permit blade changes. Many models provide extra blade storage in the handle and some models have spring-loaded blades that automatically retract when the knife is released.

Fixed Blade Utility Knife

On these knives the blade locks between the halves of the knife to provide more blade stability than retractable models. The handle generally unscrews or swivels open to permit blade changes.

As with the retractable knives, the higher-end models have rubber grips and ergonomic designs for better gripping but unlike the retractable models, the fixed blade knives accept larger or special-purpose blades that can't retract into the handle.

Snap Blade Knife

On these knives the blade sections snap off (generally between 8 and 13 per blade) without having to open the tool to change blades. They are generally used for cutting light- and medium-duty materials such as wallpaper, rubber, vinyl and leather, or materials with adhesive backing that will stick to the blade and prevent sharp, accurate cutting.

Carpet Knife

Just like its name, the carpet knife is designed for trimming and cutting carpet and other flooring materials. It's angular design provides easier access to hard-to-reach places and many models feature retractable blades and blade storage in handle.

Precision Knife

Popular with graphic artists and hobbyists this pencil-sized tool Is used for precision cutting of lightweight materials, such as paper or poster board. It is also know as a "hobby knife" or by its trade mark name, X-Acto knife.

These knives feature ultra-sharp blades made from surgical steel and they come in a variety of sizes in triangle and curved shapes and contain a built-in chuck to hold and secure the blades. Some models feature blade storage in the handle.

So, choose the utility knife that is appropriate to your task, and above all, use it safely heeding the tips that are contained in this article.
About the Author
Ann Knapp writes for Safecutters, Inc., distributor of the Klever Kutter and Klever Koncept, two of the safest utility knives available. Klever Kutter virtually eliminates the risk of workplace injuries, while the permanently shielded blade protects packaged products. Klever Kutter has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security for safe air transport. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products, visit Safecutters
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