Getting a Grip on Hand and Arm Safety in the Pulp and Paper Industry
by Jay Crawford, Director of Sales, Tilsatec North America
Anyone involved in papermaking and converting processes knows there are inherent dangers to workers, including noxious chemicals, high heat, and sharp blades. Yet, year after year, these workplace hazards result in hand and arm injuries that could have been prevented.
Hand injuries account for a third of preventable injuries in the pulp and paper industry, and 70% of the time, they occur because an employee is not wearing gloves.
U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
Tilsatec® wants to ensure every employee has—and is using—the most appropriate PPE for the job. Gear such as extreme cut-resistant gloves and gleeves, high-heat, cut-resistant gloves, blade-changing sleeves, and impact cut-resistant gloves are especially critical for minimizing incidents of hand and arm injuries, but they must be up to the task and made for the comfort of the wearer.
Every mill has unique needs when it comes to safety equipment, so leaders may need to seek out customized, application-specific solutions to streamline company safety, maximize comfort and dexterity for the wearer, and deliver adequate cut-resistance protection levels for a true “performance in every fiber” solution.
Choosing the Right PPE
There are a broad range of products available to meet almost every basic need, including cut-resistant, heat-resistant, flame-resistant, arc-resistant, chemical resistant, and impact-resistant gloves. But there are other characteristics that should also be considered to ensure the best performance.
Cut-resistance: All cut-resistant products are not equal. Some provide cut-resistance only at the palm or fingers while others, such as Tilsatec products that are made with Rhino yarn and woven materials, can offer 360-degree cut-resistance and maximum performance down to the fiber. Look for manufacturers that use third-party accredited testing labs to ensure objective results and unmatched cut-resistance.
Dexterity: When gloves or arm gear do not allow freedom of movement and/or the use of fine motor skills, employees are less likely to wear them. Choosing gloves/gleeves that are specifically designed for dexterity and grip can help prevent non-compliance with safety procedures.
Comfort: Outdated technology can be bulky, hot and uncomfortable, which can potentially increase safety hazards due to employees removing or not wearing PPE to manufacturer’s recommendation. Ideally, gloves and sleeves should be moisture-wicking, light, cool, and comfortable to ensure employee compliance.
HI-VIZ Options: Many manufacturers offer general purpose HI-VIZ products that may not offer the right level of cut-resistance for a specific task or sacrifice dexterity and comfort. It’s best that every PPE is designed with the end-user in mind first, and that HI-VIZ details, such as WYH (Watch Your Hands) safety messages, are then added when and where appropriate.
Benefits of Customization
At Tilsatec, we manufacture a broad range of out-of-the-box gloves specifically for papermaking and converting processes, but we also know that every mill is different.
Customization allows us to evaluate the end-user’s program and reduce the number of products required by making each item work harder, such as by combining gloves and sleeves (aka Gleeves™) and adding gauntlet cuffs reinforced palms.
We can recommend and engineer the correct textile and build process to match multiple requirements for your environment, and, because we are likely combining our base products with USA-made modifications, we can do it economically, quickly (usually within 30 days), and with low minimum order quantities.
“Tilsatec’s customization of a glove to our facility’s needs was instrumental in providing a solution that increased the level of employee safety, comfort, and dexterity during glove use. Tilsatec showed real care during glove development by making changes to their product based on end-user feedback until we had a product that met all requirements.”
Pulp and Paper Customer, Hawesville, KY
Contact us to learn more about how our custom solutions and rapid-response R&D can help you maintain the highest standards of hand safety, even as the industry and your processes continue to evolve.