Tough approach pays safety dividend for glass fabricator.
Tough approach pays safety dividend for glass fabricator.
Mandatory hand protection policy delivers positive safety results
Adelaide, Australia, December 2015 – Chevron Glass is the largest independent glass business in South Australia and operates two sites, Melrose Park and Royal Park, that combined employ 100 people who produce glass for use in residential and commercial architectural installations.
Chevron’s Melrose Park fabrication plant produces toughened glass panels, including the application of toughening processes; cutting sheets to size and finishing them according to customers’ requirements.
The work includes cutting, drilling, grinding edges to different profiles, packaging and loading onto trucks ready for delivery. Handling thick glass with very sharp edges presents a significant and hazardous workplace safety challenge.
“Prior to the introduction of our mandatory glove policy, we were examining the number of hand cut injuries and found that action needed to be taken”, said Alan Johnson, WH&S & QA Systems Coordinator.
“Several serious tendon injuries made us think closely about our glove policy and jolted us into action. We knew we had to making some major changes to our hand protection policy.
“Prior to the introduction of a mandatory glove policy, we were experiencing between eight to ten hand cut injuries per month. While many of these injuries were not serious, they required bandaging or several sutures and interrupted the production workflow. All injuries were associated with the physical act of handling glass – either picking it up and placing in machinery or removing sheets after processing.
Coming to grips with hand protection requirements
“We undertook a three-month trial of our people wearing gloves. This involved evaluation of different gloves to assess their suitability for our workplace. 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.
“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.
“Grip is important as much of our machinery uses water that creates slippery surfaces through polishing the edges of glass panels. Gloves also need to provide protection when delivery trucks were being loaded. The diversity of handling tasks meant we had to look for a protective solution that was fit for purpose for each handling job.
“Our people were heavily engaged in the glove assessment process. We were pleased with the constructive feedback from our production people who wanted gloves that were comfortable to wear all day long. We consulted extensively with workers in different departments to determine which type and style of glove would satisfy their needs.
“Management fully understood it was their ultimate responsibility to ensure that gloves selected had the appropriate level of protection for the task to be performed. The bottom line was, our workers had to be well protected.
“Our priority was the virtual elimination of hand cut injuries and while we carried out trials on lower cost gloves, we found many more sets of gloves were used, making their use uneconomical in the long-term”, Alan said.
Creating a culture of compliance
In an industry where people historically were not required to wear gloves, Chevron discovered the introduction of a mandatory glove policy represented a challenge. There existed an attitude of “nothing has happened to me, so why do I have to wear gloves?
“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 counseled with warnings if they were found not to be wearing gloves. If this behaviour persisted, disciplinary action was taken.
“Our glove policy applies to all workers who are handling glass. This means all staff who handle glass at any time are required to carry gloves with them and wear them while they are handling glass. Since the introduction of our mandatory glove policy injuries have been reduced close to zero.
Advanced cut protection delivers safety dividend
“We had been buying gloves from a local PPE distributor for many years, so the final selection of the gloves came from a process of trial and error in finding out which gloves really suited our needs best. The glove that performed in tests and also preferred by our works was the Ansell HyFlex® 11-630 gloves which provide an advanced level cut protection.
“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. In fact, we had been using this glove model for some time and it still emerged as the most suited to the protective purpose and acceptability by our workers.
“Many of our people have become so attached to their gloves they take them home for laundering to keep them in top condition. Gloves cared for in this manner tend to last for several weeks before having to be changed.
“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.
“We are happy that we have solved the hand injury problem”, Alan concluded.
About Chevron Glass
Chevron Glass Pty Ltd is the largest independent glass business in South Australia. It is a supplier and processor of flat glass, including the merchandising of bulk glass in original sheets, as well as products cut to size from many glass types.
Glass is also processed and manufactured into value added products such as toughened glass, insulated glass units (for double glazed windows/doors), and custom laminated glass for special applications. Its two factories are equipped with modern, multi-purpose glass processing machinery including automatic glass cutting tables, CNC machines, waterjet cutters and automatic beveling, polishing and hole drilling machines.
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