Post #356 – Ensure that Machine Safety Fits like a Glove

Excerpt from the OH&S Canada magazine

By: Jean Lian

The age-old caution to “Watch your hands!” is oft-heard by inquisitive children with a propensity to touch everything they see. But that advice can serve adults just as well.

In August of 2006, a worker at an assembly plant in Chatham, Ontario got one of his gloves caught on the slightly raised screw of a hose lathe’s spinning drive shaft. Toronto-based Penske Logistics Canada Ltd. was fined $50,000 after pleading guilty to failing to protect worker health and safety.

Regulatory requirements in Ontario note that loose or dangling jewelry or clothing should not be worn near any rotating shaft, spindle, gear belt or other source of entanglement.

The incident raises an important question: Should gloves always be worn when working with machinery involving moving parts?

The answer lies in a risk assessment of the type of activity being performed, suggests Bill Kaine, president of Gambit Industrial Health and Safety Consultants Inc. in Guelph, Ontario. “There are so many different types of gloves out there. There’s something for everyone,” says Kaine.

Information from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) indicates a complete, accurate description of a task is needed to choose the right glove for the task at hand. This would entail identification of all hazards that may require hand protection, and taking into account factors such as flexibility, touch sensitivity and grip-improvement features, the CCOHS notes.

Training is required, and should address issues such as the limitations of the gloves and what to do should they fail.

Glove fit should allow sufficient dexterity for the hand and fingers to manipulate whatever is being handled, suggests Jacques St. Hilaire, senior safety and health officer for Manitoba’s Workplace Safety and Health Division.

But that gear may not always discharge its protective function as intended. “Oftentimes, it’s the gloves that potentially cause the risk of coming into contact with the moving part, so that should be assessed at the beginning to determine if the worker should be allowed to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) for such applications,” St. Hilaire advises.

St. Hilaire cites as examples table saws and bend saws, which may not be a good fit with gloves. “Sometimes, they don’t see the proximity to the moving part, how close they are, or the fact that maybe their gloves are loose-fitting and get caught in the lumber that’s going through [the saw].”

Dean Scarpelli, sales manager for Watson Gloves in Mississauga, Ontario, is of the view that PPE is not the problem. Rather, it’s the nature of the work being done and how the wearer is using the gloves, Scarpelli says. Operational error arising from inattention can contribute to accidents involving gloves, he adds.

If a glove becomes loose-fitting or somehow compromises the tasks being done, workers have a responsibility to “let [their] superiors know and get a new pair of gloves,” he says.

While employers are obliged to assess the work being performed, provide PPE to workers and train them on how to properly use the equipment, workers, too, have responsibilities, says Kaine. “If they will not wear this equipment as [it is] intended to be worn, then they need to be disciplined if they are not willing to toe the line,” he argues.

My opinion

Section 24 of the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851/90 is very explicit when it comes to ‘Machine Guarding’ protection for the worker. Basically, it demands that any time a worker can come into contact with a moving part of a machine, there has to have a guard in place to prevent it. The message is not ambiguous! There is a “Zero Tolerance” message given by the Ontario government.

In closing,

The manufacturer cannot build a piece of equipment that does not meet the ACT or the appropriate regulations. I have to assume that the employer remove any safe guards that should have been in place and I can guarantee that there were no written instructions for the workers to follow.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Due Diligence’, ‘The Importance of PPE’ and ‘Standard Operating Procedures’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at 

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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