Knife Safety

Statistics indicate that knives cause more disabling injuries than any other hand tool. People in all occupations are injured by knives – a stock boy in a supermarket produce department or a mechanic opening a box or cutting rubber. We are all exposed to knife injuries only because a knife is a very handy and commonly used tool.

All cuts should receive first aid. Even the smallest cut can become infected, so treat all cuts properly. Always use a knife only for what it is intended. Never use it as a screwdriver or pry bar. Never use a knife that is defective. Keep knives sharp and in good condition. A dull knife can cause you to put too much pressure on the object you are trying to cut. The blade could slip and slice you or someone nearby.

The principal hazard when using a knife, whether on or off the job, is that the user’s hand may slip from the handle onto the blade, causing a painful and serious injury. A handle guard will reduce this hazard. Another cause of injury is the knife striking the free hand or the user’s body.

Industrial knife safety principles remind us to always make a cutting stroke away from the body when possible. Adequate protection should be worn to protect the body and provisions made to hold the material steady. Steel-mesh gloves are available in select industries, such as meatpacking, where materials must be held in close proximity to the knife. TGM carries these steel mesh gloves in every tool set we own. We are in the process of getting Kevlar gloves as well.

When on the job, carry a knife in a sheath or holder over the right or left hip, pointing backwards. Otherwise, a fall could cause a serious leg injury. Storage of knives is also an important safety factor. Cutting edges should be covered and not exposed. Knives should be kept in their proper place and not left on benches or on the floor.

If you are using the right knife for the job, it should cut without great difficulty. When you have to resort to force to make a knife cut, then you are headed for trouble–it could result in an injury to you, damage to the knife, or damage to the material that you are attempting to cut. Remember this, “our patience will achieve more than our force.” That is a good point to remember when using a knife.