Columbus, Ohio — Hand injuries are the most common industrial accident, and cuts, lacerations and punctures of the hands account for 87 percent of cut injuries in the upper extremities, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
"Our hands are the No. 1 tool in our toolbox, and they're very complex and unique," said Sally Smart, who has been involved in cut-resistant gloves since the late 1990s.
Smart, technical specialist at industrial supply company W.W. Grainger Inc., shared her expertise on work gloves at the Environmental Health and Safety Summit, sponsored by the Manufacturers Association for Plastics Processors.
She asked for a show of hands — no pun intended — of audience members who have had someone injured by cuts who had to go the emergency room. Two-thirds of the attendees' hands went up.
Cut injuries are costly. Smart said the average total cost of a single laceration is $41,397. A puncture is even more: $53,598.
Smart said the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration says companies must take steps to keep employees safe, including "appropriate hand protection."
She reviewed ANSI standards for cut-resistant gloves, including changes to the standards. Cut-resistant glove coatings include polyurethane, nitrile and latex.
Smart's advice: Choose the right glove to match the cut hazard and with the proper grip, size and application for the job.