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The Best Package Opener for Moving Supplies, Shipping Boxes, and Everyday Use

Dec 6, 2007
Anyone who works in shipping and receiving - not to mention anyone who's ever moved into a new house or apartment, staffed a mail room, or gotten a package in the mail - knows the improvised solutions people may resort to when receiving a parcel without a good box cutter on hand.

Some workers, faced with a stiffly-wrapped package and no package opener in sight, will opt for brute force. They pull, push, pry, poke and tear on the flaps of the box, all to no avail. They yank on the loose end of the packing tape until it tears - or doesn't tear. The use of teeth is not unknown. Shoulders strain, fingers get cut, and the boxes are reduced to tatters sometimes along with the materials inside. Other workers, bereft of a utility knife, will assault a perfectly innocent parcel in a sometimes dangerous approach with all manner of blunt objects in a sometimes dangerous approach a jackknife, butter knife, the handle of a spoon, sewing scissors, screw driver, keys, letter opener, fork, the sharp end of a pen, or whatever is handy, and the upshot, usually, is bent utensils, dull scissors, and sore shoulders, at best. At worst, the result is cuts, lacerations and trips to the emergency room.

People who've just moved to a new house or apartment may find themselves in the same position. Facing empty rooms and hours of tedious unpacking - with their tools, possibly, packed away somewhere in it all - many movers give up on proper technique entirely, and rip their boxes open by any means necessary. After hours of loading and unloading trucks, lifting furniture, and navigating box after box through a series of narrow doorways, these movers risk serious arm and shoulder muscle strains.

As funny as these improvised solutions may be to watch, none of them are terribly safe. And employee safety is no laughing matter for workers or employers. In any given year, according to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), nearly five million workers will experience injury or illness on the job, and more than half these injuries will be severe enough to send the worker home. Of these injuries, a third of them will be in the form of musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Such disorders are painful for workers and costly for employers, both in lost productivity and in workers compensation claims. For workers who handle heavy packages on a regular basis, these injuries are both especially inconvenient and especially hard to avoid.

Without proper tools such as a safety knife, package-handlers - whether shipping and receiving or mail room workers or just ordinary folks - not only risk knife accidents (which can be deadly), but also Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), a kind of musculoskeletal disorder that results from overtaxing certain muscle groups by tensing them for excessive time periods, due to overuse or poor posture. The use of the wrong tools leads directly to such muscle strain and overuse. Box cutters are designed to minimize the use of arm and shoulder muscles. They thus increase efficiency and save time, as well as protecting workers from injury.

To avoid injuring yourself when opening packages, follow these simple instructions:

- Place the box on the floor, setting it at such an angle that you will not be pulling the box cutter toward you. In other words, make sure that the line of tape is horizontal, not vertical, in relation to you.
- Place your hand on the opposite side of the box.
- Rather than cutting straight across all at once, make a series of small, smooth cuts.

Most of all, be sure you have good box cutters on hand. Use a box cutter with a sharp blade, because dull blades require more pressure, leading to greater potential for injuries. Maintain a full set of utility knife box cutters and safety knives for your employees and your home, and instruct everyone who handles them in proper box-cutting technique.
About the Author
SafeCutters distributes 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. It has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security for safe air transport.
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