Meat processor slashes hand injuries
Meat processor slashes hand injuries
H. W. Greenham & Sons Pty Ltd shows that lower hand injuries can be achieved through a mandatory glove policy and careful evaluation and selection of gloves.
Tongala, Australia, November 2015 –Few workplaces are more hazardous for cut injuries than in bulk meat processing where all production staff use razor sharp knives that are designed to quickly and efficiently slice through tough sinew and animal flesh.
In Central Victoria, meat processorHW Greenham & Sons Pty Ltd processes and exports beef to the US,destined for ground beef for the Burger King®restaurant chain. The Tongala facility is one of severaloperated by Greenham across Tasmania and Victoria. The plant employs 230 people, all of whom are required to wear different levels of specialized PPE which includeshand protection appropriate for the task being performed.
Gloves are not only used by plant workers for hand protection. Gloves form part of the scrupulous hygiene and anti-contamination compliance required by US FDA regulations as well as helping to protect the product integrity of H W Greenham as a producer and most important, the reputation of the Australian meat export industry.
Cut injuries are a common occurrence in this industry
“Relatively minor cut injuries that affect workers and productivity is a common problem in this industry, so everyone is looking for solutions that can reduce or eliminate these injuries”,said Operations Manager Darren Maloney.
“Our mandatory glove policy means that workers are unable to remove gloves to perform any task and involves disciplinary action should any operator remove gloves for any reason while on the job.
“Every part of the process involves workers cutting meat from bone and is therefore a dangerous procedure. Very sharp knives are used in almost every stage of production and this is the reason why everybody is required to use hand protection.
“Cut injuries that often required one or two surgical stitches, resulting in absenteeism and adversely impacting production, was the catalyst for a glove evaluation that was led by our OH&S committee in conjunction with our abattoir workers.
“The Committee trialed several different styles and makes of cut-resistant gloves in their quest for protection that would deliver comfort and dexterity for our workers, as well as the key requirement of high level cut resistance. The prime need was for a glove to be worn as an under-glove to provide the final barrier between potential knife injury and an operator’s skin.
Zero hand injuries
“Ansell Polar Bear cut resistant gloves were selected as a popular and practical choice. Since we introduced these gloves, all those minor cuts injuries that occurred throughout the year have been eliminated.
“When we first introduced mandatory wearing of these gloves, we experienced resistance from the abattoir workers. Many objections were raised, however our policy of “no gloves, no job” turned the tide of objection and today our workers are happy to wear them.
Comfort is key to worker acceptance
“The main features of the gloves that appealed to us were the high level of cut resistance; the feel of the glove materialand the comfort that enablesour people to carry out their work efficiently throughout their shift. The knitted material is very flexible and enables our operators to wrap their hands around the knife handle and manipulate knives and implements with the dexterity required for working quickly and precisely in removing meat from bone.
“We have implemented a daily laundering regime in accordance with Ansell’s recommendation to ensure we meet the US FDA meat export facility regulations to maintain the cut resistance integrity of the gloves. “We have a very stringent laundering process in place that ensures our accreditation rules are not contravened. The gloves are an engineered product and adherence to strict laundering procedures is necessary to ensure that we gain the full usable life of every pair of gloves.
Hand safety contributes to cost saving
“Investment in appropriate hand protection pays dividends in terms of worker wellbeing, minimizing downtime, maintaining productivity and controlling workers compensation premiums. Furthermore, our work environment is very tough on gloves and as we getaround three months wear out of each pair of Ansell polar bear cut resistant gloves, this helps us budget our hand protection costs more accurately”, Darren concluded.
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