Protection from aggressive vegetation

Monday, 21 March, 2016 | Supplied by: Ansell

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The number of injuries caused by hand-operated pruning tools has prompted Botanic Gardens & Centennial Parklands in Sydney to review its hand protection program for its horticultural and landscape workers.

Everyday tasks carried out by horticulturalists can present hand protection challenges including cutting limbs, branches and dead vegetation, which involves considerable handling of material and offcuts, as well as picking up and loading material for disposal into trailers or bins.

The horticulturalists at the organisation had been using leather riggers’ gloves, which failed to provide appropriate cut protection, particularly when the gloves became wet and soft as a result of handling moist foliage. Some workers had also been removing their leather gloves for tasks such as weeding due to lack of tactility.

“Our horticulturalists work with a variety of sharp hand tools which they use for pruning trees and shrubs. These tools, which include knives, saws, very sharp pruning saws and secateurs are designed to cut through very tough and resilient vegetation,” said Simon Callaghan, stores officer for the organisation.

“Unless hands are adequately protected, deep and serious cut injuries may be inflicted if tools should slip while in use.”

Hunt for hardy hand protection

Callaghan said the organisation was looking for a glove that would protect against a range of hazards and opted for several styles from Ansell.

“While cut protection is the prime requirement, we were also looking for gloves that would allow horticulturalists to undertake weeding activities that required a high level of feel and dexterity and allowed free movement of hand and finger muscles,” he said.

“Some weeds such as Small-Leaf Spiderwort produce toxic sap when cut and may cause skin irritation to workers who have sensitive skin. Although not a prime requirement, it was considered a bonus if gloves possessed a robust protective coating that would minimise sap contact with skin.”

Landscapers responsible for construction and repairs to sandstone rockery and retaining walls also needed a glove that would prevent injury from scrapes and knocks.

Callaghan said different types of gloves were trialled over one month and feedback through a staff survey indicated the Ansell HyFlex 11-840 glove was the preferred general-purpose glove for protection, comfort and dexterity.

“We noticed a definite increase in work efficiency of people wearing these gloves and we also observed that our staff tended to leave these gloves on longer,” said Callaghan.

“For situations more prone to injury from sharp foliage, we agreed that the Ansell HyFlex 11-630 glove and a style 11-638 variant helped our work by extending the cuff to provide better forearm protection when our people are reaching in and about branches and foliage.”

Since implementing the Ansell gloves, the organisation said it has almost eliminated the occurrence of hand cut injuries.

Image credit: (Top) Ansell HyFlex 11-630 glove and (bottom) Ansell HyFlex 11-638 extended cuff glove.

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