Tough approach pays safety dividend for glass fabricator
Reports of around 10 hand cut injuries every month has prompted South Australian glass business Chevron Glass to make changes to its safety procedures and introduce a mandatory hand protection policy.
While many reported injuries were not serious, the company said they required bandaging or several sutures and interrupted production workflows. “Several serious tendon injuries made us think closely about our glove policy and jolted us into action. We knew we had to make some major changes,” said Alan Johnson, WH&S & QA systems coordinator.
Chevron Glass employs about 100 people who produce toughened glass panels, which includes cutting, drilling, grinding edges, packaging and loading tasks. The company said handling thick glass with sharp edges has presented a hazardous workplace safety challenge. The company therefore decided to undertake a three-month glove trial.
“This involved evaluation of different gloves to assess their suitability for our workplace,” said Johnson. “We dated the gloves and fully documented which tasks were being undertaken by operators while wearing different gloves, including when they were first used and how long they lasted.”
He said grip was an important factor for not only handling slippery items but also when loading glass for delivery. “The glass-cutting process uses a high volume of lubricant, so we had to examine which gloves could best withstand the process and which hand protection provided the required level of protection in both wet areas and handling of dry glass.”
Through trial and error, the company opted for the Ansell HyFlex 11-630 gloves.
“Our people particularly like the comfort and snug fit of these gloves, and they have a very good palm grip surface which is well suited to handling our product,” explained Johnson. “The key feature of these Ansell gloves is their high level of cut resistance, which provides the best fit-for-purpose performance in our glass fabrication facility. Our people are very happy to wear them as they now feel safe handling glass.”
Creating a culture of compliance
Chevron Glass said in an industry where people usually didn’t have to wear gloves, the introduction of a mandatory glove policy presented a challenge.
“We had to remain firm in our resolve to implement the policy and allowed our workers three months to become accustomed to the rules. After a three-month introduction period, people were counselled with warnings if they were found not to be wearing gloves. If this behaviour persisted, disciplinary action was taken,” said Johnson.
“Since the introduction of our mandatory glove policy, injuries have been reduced close to zero. We are happy that we have solved the hand injury problem.”
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