In the last three years, we have seen sweeping changes in the arena of safety on the jobsite. One of which has been the new OSHA guidelines instituted in 2017. These new mandates changed the way silica-based materials are handled on the jobsite and are designed to ensure that all persons working on a project are safe.
Some of the tools and practices used on the job, even when handled properly, can be dangerous. Careful thought and planning is needed to create a safe environment through the determination of risk assessment. Here, potential hazards need to be identified and how likely they may occur on the job. Within this process, safety measures need to be put into place that will lessen the possibility of an accident. No one wants to see anyone hurt on the job and beyond that, time-lost injuries, which can be painful for the injured worker can also mean lost wages. When an accident occurs, productivity suffers.
This is where PPE or Personal Protection Equipment comes into play. These items include safety glasses, full-face shields, ear protection, hard hats, aprons, work boots, respiratory protection, and various types of gloves. Depending on the worksite hazards which have been recognized by the risk assessment, combinations of the above list will be required on the jobsite.
Probably the least thought of PPE item on the list, which when used, saves painful injuries, is also something that is relatively new to the PPE category. Cut gloves, as the name suggests, protect the user from being cut by sharp objects such as a utility knife blade.
I recently witnessed a utility knife accident while the installer was cutting backer board. This man was conscientious, methodical, detail-oriented, and careful, but the blade skipped across the straightedge and over his thumb. This was a nasty laceration which required multiple stitches to close. Additionally, I read a social media post today by an installer who accidentally cut off the end of his finger while using a knife blade. Even when exercising extreme caution, accidents happen.
The solution to these avoidable incidents is wearing cut gloves. These gloves are readily available and come in various ratings of their resistance to being cut by a knife blade. The ANSI designation of A1 through A9 demonstrates the increasing cut resistance as the number grows higher. The ANSI recommendations for protection while using a utility knife, would be a glove bearing an A4 or A5 rating as seen in the attached photo. Be safe, work smartly, and keep your fingers unharmed.
As a side note, cut gloves with an ANSI rating of A4 or A5 are now required for all participants of the Certified Tile Installer (CTI) hands-on test when using a utility knife or score awl. The safety and well-being of all involved is paramount.