PPE, or personal protective equipment,  has become a much-discussed topic on health and safety forums. However, safety knives are yet to receive their due, with quite a few industries unaware about how to implement knife safety in their present work environments. Creating a ‘knife policy’ as such is imperative, but also quite challenging. This is because officers will obviously be focusing on safety, while the actual knife users may be more concerned with cutting performance! Of course, price is another factor for the company in question. Regardless of these challenges, there is no doubting the importance of introducing safety knives for manual cutting operations at the workplace. 

Carefully assessing the requirements for safety knives   

As part of your company’s knife safety audit, you need to first evaluate the type of knife that delivers optimal performance whilst offering the expected levels of safety. This can be done by taking into consideration the opinions of knife handlers across various departments. Different departments may handle a variety of materials on a regular basis; these may include cardboard, plastic or shrink wrapping to name a few. Some safety knives may work better with plastic than cardboard. So it follows that precise material handling requirements must be understood before identifying the safety knife features and performance that will best suit the daily cutting tasks. In fact, a precise assessment is the first step to creating and implementing a safe workplace knife culture. 

Verifying the suitability of safety knives 

Pharmaceutical and food industries may require metal detectable knives that can be easily cleaned in an autoclave while other may prefer the disposable variety that doesn’t risk cross contamination. How can you verify the suitability of safety knives unless you use them first? By requesting the safety knives supplier to provide samples that can be used to guarantee all the important considerations. Before using the safety knives, it is imperative that users go through the operating instructions for different knife designs carefully. 

To use the safety knives optimally, it is crucial that you understand how to use them correctly. For instance, some knife designs will need to be positioned at an angle of 45 degrees while others can be held much like you would handle an open blade knife. The direction of cutting is another consideration. Some cut away from you and others with hooked heads cut towards you. To prevent snagging, some knifes may ‘slice’ as opposed to ‘cutting’ material. So, as you can see, choosing the right knife design will involve a bit of research and trial. As PPE safety equipment suppliers provide sample knives, trialling, at least, should not be a problem. 

Taking other factors into consideration 

You need to assess how comfortable it is to use and handle the safety knives. A few lightweight designs may shatter easily and expose their blades. Assess whether the knife blade is enclosed within a finger-safe gap or it is auto-retractable. Also see if the knife blade can be replaced. As a range of safety knives is available at leading suppliers, you will have a lot of choice when it comes to picking a design that best meets your workplace needs. 

Blog4Safety and Texas America Safety Company want to thank Penny Cooper, a writer who represents suppliers of safety equipment, Intersafety, located in the United Kingdom.  We appreciate your interest in sharing safety information with our readers.