May 3, 2011

Glass Shop Safety, and the Beat Goes On

By Paul Bieber

So, here is part II…How to reduce the impact of an injury that may occur in your company. The best course is to prevent the accident, but we are now beyond that.

It starts with you, you must enforce that all personnel who work with or near glass wear safety gear. This is what you should have:

  • Everyone who enters your shop or manufacturing area has to wear approved safety glasses. Absolutely no exceptions.
  • Everyone who who is in contact with glass, of any sort, tempered or annealed, should wear glass gloves and wrist gauntlets. Some glaziers and workers prefer the wrist guards, and some prefer the long gloves. Give your people the choice…whatever is comfortable for them. But, there is no choice to wear them or not. This includes you!
  • All people who unload glass from trucks should wear hard hats. Anytime glass is overhead for any reason…being carried by hand or by a crane, wear a hard hat. You can make this fun…hard hats are available in many colors and styles, from cowboy hats to baseball hats.
  • Anyone who carries glass should also be wearing glass worker’s sleeves. Get the kind without the metal ringlets. When carrying the glass against your shoulder, the rings will scratch the glass.
  • Fabricators and manufacturers should also wear leggings or a leather apron.

Yes, it sounds like a lot. It will cost you about $200 to outfit each person. And that is cheap compared on one major accident that is reduced to a five-stitcher.

That is the key. Reduce the severity of an accident. What would have been a three inch gash is now just a bruise. No lost time and no hospital charges. Instead of a cut and a concussion, you have a bump. There is no way to say how much you will save because of the correct wearing of personal protective gear because you won’t have the accidents! Ask your comp carrier them what your comp bill would have been if your last couple of accidents were reduced to a non-reportable situation. The dollar signs will light up with that one.

Respond instantly to any accident in your company. Have a trained first-aid person working on every shift. Send one employee for CPR, blood-born pathogen and first-aid training to your local Red Cross. They do a great job! Keep your first-aid supplies fresh and available. Place a sticker with the local ambulance or fire department number on every phone in your building. It is better to call a paramedic early in the process. I have met many firemen and ambulance staff, and they all have said it is better to call them to your business and not have a problem than to call them ten minutes after a cut where you can’t stop the bleeding! It is better to call an ambulance than to drive someone to the hospital or clinic yourself. If the employee goes into shock, they can handle it better than you can. Even though it may take a couple of minutes for the ambulance to get to you, they will still give better care than you can and they will get immediate entree to the emergency room.

Get the rest of your employees back to work. Don’t let them stand around and stare at an injured person. This will destroy productivity and reduce moral.

Next, make the reporting of any accident immediate and mandatory. Failure to report an accident should be cause for a long suspension. This will reduce the incidence of someone saying, “Well, a couple of weeks ago I hurt my back, and now I want to file a claim.” By coincidence, this conversation will take place twenty minutes after the employee was told to do a job he doesn’t like doing. You still have to honor the injury claim, (Most states give up to one year for an employee to file a claim) but you have a better chance of fighting it under these circumstances.

Next week we will discuss your obligations under OSHA regulations and investigating accidents in your shop.