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Tips for Reducing Hand Injuries in the Pulp and Paper Industry

by Robert Gheesling on June 25, 2015

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In industrial environments, Personal Protective Equipment (also known as PPE) can be a critical factor in reducing the chances for injury. Pulp and Paper mills contain lots of cutting machinery by their very nature. Sharp blades, saws, cutters and chippers must be used with care in order to limit hand injuries. In fact, twenty-nine percent of all injuries in the field are some type of hand injury. Here are some things to look out for when working in a paper or pulp mill that can help prevent hand injuries.
 
pulp&paper
Tool Hazards for Hands and Fingers

Common hazardous equipment found in the pulp and paper industry include:

    Saws: Improperly used and maintained saws can cause severe hand injuries. Before performing any kind of maintenance on a powered saw, ensure that it is properly locked out and de-energized. Make sure all saw blades are kept sharp and in working order. Ensure all blade guards are in place and secured, do not remove them. Make sure that blades are set to the correct height and use kickback guards if they are available.

    Chippers: Resist the urge to reach too far into or place hands too close to chipper blades. The rotating blades can make quick work of fingers that get too close, so be aware at all times where hands are in relation to the blades.

    Rollers: Just like with chippers, avoid getting too close to the rollers when feeding material into them. Getting caught in roller nip points can easily crush fingers. When performing maintenance on any machinery that has a roller feed mechanism, ensure that the proper lockout procedure has been performed. Have a second security check of the lockout to prevent accidently activating the machine during the maintenance.

    Nail/Staple Guns: When using a nail or staple gun, be fully aware of the exit point of the nail in relation to your hand or other body parts. Make sure stabilizing hands are clear of the gun before firing to ensure that they are not too close. Keep all safety mechanisms on the equipment operational and intact; only disengage the safety when you are ready to use the nail/staple gun.

    Wood Handling
    Wood itself can be the cause of many injuries. Splinters, splits, and nip points between logs or boards can all cause hand injury. Prevent these types of injuries by making sure to use the proper hand PPE when handling wood.

    Burns
    Boilers, steam and hot liquors are all used in paper and pulp processing. Before reaching for a door or touching a piece of equipment, take time to check and make sure it isn’t hot. Again, proper PPE can help prevent these types of injuries, but being aware of your surroundings and the equipment you are about to use is your first line of defense.

    Electricity
    Electrocutions can cause severe burns or worse to hands. Before using electrical equipment make sure that there is no standing water around. Also make sure to use insulated tools and hand PPE.


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