A sharp reminder on utility knife safety

Date Posted: 07/15/2019
Utility Knife

Utility knives are handy tools, but because they are so commonly used, injuries caused by utility knives are also far too common.

Train workers how to use utility knives safely by sharing the following information.

Not surprisingly, the most common injury from a utility knife is getting cut. This happens because:

  • The user forgets the blade is not retracted and handles the tool or even puts it in a pocket with the blade partially or fully extended.
  • The knife slips off the material being cut. This can occur because of improper force (too little or too much) being applied to the material.
  • The material begin cut was not properly secured and shifts during the cut, causing the blade to move in an unexpected direction.
  • The razor blade breaks and strikes the worker. This sometimes happens when the razor blade is dull and the user has to exert excessive force to cut the material.
  • The worker cuts toward his or her body, or cuts in an arc toward part of his or her body, and is injured when the blade slips or breaks.
  • The user is not watching the blade when performing the cut and is injured when it strikes some part of his or her body.
  • While changing out a dull or broken blade, the worker is cut by the dull blade or by the new blade.

Avoiding utility knife injuries

To avoid these injuries, make sure employees follow these basic rules when using a utility knife:

  • Retract the razor blade fully into the handle when not using the knife.
  • Replace the razor blade when it becomes dull or broken.
  • Make sure the material being cut is held securely so it can’t shift or move. The force used to secure the material should exceed the force used to make the cut.
  • Concentrate on the material to be cut and watch the blade at all times.
  • Apply a consistent, firm (but not excessive) pressure while performing the cut.
  • Always cut away from your body, and away from anyone else helping with the material.
  • Use caution when changing dull or damaged blades.
  • Dispose of blades in a safe manner. Put them in a metal container if possible.

Training Tip: During training, demonstrate the proper way to use the utility knife and how to change the blades. Discuss the proper disposal of used blades.

How Safety Management Suite Can Help

Injuries from cuts can expose other employees to blood and, potentially, to bloodborne pathogens. Individuals who are designated as first responders must have training because they have occupational exposure. However, other employees might respond to an injured coworker and could benefit from a basic understanding of how to protect themselves from bloodborne pathogens. Learn more in the bloodborne pathogens topic in the J. J. Keller® SAFETY MANAGEMENT SUITE.

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