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One in 5 employees pays a visit to the Emergency room because they cut themselves, making it one of the most common risks. However, although people are ware of the risks, they often hurt themselves through carelessness of unexpected situations.

People can cut themselves on sharp edges of objects and materials, like metal, boxes, machines, tools, etc. By making a sudden move, people can really injure themselves, while some objects are so sharp that no pressure is needed to cut yourself. Sharp objects lying on the floor are also a hazard, like nails, shards or welding slags. Because they occur in many work situations, safety measures against the risk of perforation or cutting are essential. 

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Work situations

Especially when working with metal, there is a risk of cutting, for instance when working on metal plates. Working with glass, garbage, electricity cables or foundations also present potentials risks. But even in everyday activities, like packaging items, there is a risk: paper or cardboard are sharp enough to damage our skin and many people use knives to open packaging. Employees must not underestimate the risks of these types of tools and stay focused when wielding them. 

Working with a chainsaw is a special skill. People need to be trained to use them. There is a reason the 2018 PPE-regulations pay special attention to it, upscaling chainsaw-related injuries to risk category 3 (the highest), because the consequences can be very serious.  
Injury through 'contact with an object' is most common in industry, trade, catering and construction. About half of all people visiting the Emergency Room has injured fingers, hands or arms.

Cutting and perforating can lead to serious injury and absenteeism, for instance when someone loses fingers or even a hand. But other body parts are also at risk if proper protection is not in place. It is not just about people not being absent, it is also about (partial) disability. 

Cutting wounds can cause infections. Sharp objects are rarely clean and contamination through dust, chemicals and bacteria is a constant hazard. Blood poisoning after a cut is therefore a realistic scenario.

Relevant legislation:

Legislation and regulations consist of general guidelines to concrete rules.  The most relevant guidelines regarding cutting hazard are to be found in the Labour Conditions Act, the Decision Labour Conditions and sector-related labour condition guidelines. In addition, regulations from the Machine Guidelines are aimed at preventing injuries. We list a number of starting points:

Safe policy
The employer’s policy is aimed at making sure that the employee is not negatively impacted by his work. In addition, the employer carries out a Risk Inventory and Evaluation (RI&E), which is a list of the risks to which employees are exposed in the execution of their jobs. It also includes measures to manage the risks. 

In the underlying Decision Labour Conditions, a complete chapter is dedicated to work tools and their requirements, for instance their operating mechanisms, reliability/soundness, unauthorised use, information and education, inspection and maintenance, and even making machines inaccessible when they are not being used. 

Machine guideline
In addition to the above-mentioned description, the Decision Labour Conditions also refers to the Machine guideline. There is no room here to go into detail, but we do want to emphasize the following: all machines have to have the CE-mark. In the case of composite machines, a CE declaration has to be issued for the entire installation. In addition, all machines have to comply with the machine guideline. 
Both declarations can be applied for with a large number of companies, who will support you in assessing and testing your machine park.
[1] Arbowet 1999, Art. 3
[2] Arbowet 1999, Art. 5
[3] Arbobesluit 1997, H. 7
[4] Arbobesluit 1997, Art. 7.13
[5] Arbobesluit 1997, Art. 7.4, lid 1& 2
[6] Arbobesluit 1997, Art. 7.4, lid 3
[7] Arbobesluit 1997, Art. 7.6 & 7.11a
[8] Arbobesluit 1997, Art. 7.4a & 7.5
[9] Arbobesluit 1997, Art. 7.5

Risk approach

If the risks are known, the challenge to reduce the risks to an acceptable level begins.

How do you handle the source?


An employer first has to try and remove the cause. But that is often difficult in practice, because machines with moving parts have to remain accessible. 

Virtually all measures that tackle the source, move the risk elsewhere. Of course, the number of activities can be limited by using machines more. However, supplying materials and removing semi-finished products continue to be activities that involve a lot of human participation. 

What are organisational measures?

Is tackling the problem at the source is not possible, the employer has to take collective measures to reduce the risks.
Measures designed to protect the collective are often technical in nature, for example:
  • Shielding/covering sharp objects.
  • Rooms with sharp obstacles are made inaccessible, physical zoning.
  • Separate work stations, with less distraction or the risk of bumping into a colleague.
  • Automation: machines take over risky work processes.

What are individual measures?

If collective measures are not possible of (as yet) fail to provide a sufficient solution, the employer has to take individual measures, which are organisational in nature and depend on the extent to with they are observed by the employees. 
  • A TRA (Task Risk Analysis) is a valuable tool to map the risk in the workplace. On the basis of this analysis, the right measures can be proposed. 
  • Work instructions/procedures provide indications on how to carry out the work safely.
  • Training and instruction help your people develop skills, assess risks and handle risks appropriately. 

Order and neatness prevent sharp objects from having an extra impact in case people trip, fall of slip. In addition, an orderly, clean work floor also reduces the risk of falling.

Which personal protective gear can be applied

If the measures discussed above fail to have the desired effect, there is one remaining option: personal protective gear. The employer has to provide the employee with the necessary personal protective gear. Depending on the risk within your organisation, that can involve the following products/product groups:


How do you create awareness & support?

We have noticed that acceptance is the foundation of personal work safety. The key elements in breaking any resistance in most cases are awareness and involvement. 

Awareness starts with information about the risk in the workplace. Examples from (the company’s own) practice can be used to help people understand. If you then close the meeting by asking your employees to help determine the solution, they are sure to be motivated. 

How to we encourage personal protection?In addition to awareness, comfort also turns out to play an essential role. Sometimes, people deliberately don’t wear their PPE because of the additional weight or heat involved. It is understandable the people don’t want to wear unwieldy gloves or thick overalls. But in a risk-related context, that is unacceptable. 

That is why, in determining the PPE, it is important to involve the employees and take their opinions seriously, because they allow you to look for an alternative product with equal protection. 

In addition, good practice and maintenance is essential to a long-lasting and good protection. PPE are subject to wear when being used and their protective qualities deteriorate. If your employees are unaware of that, they think they work safely, when in fact they do not. 


Our PPE-advisors have been consulted in a wide variety of work environments about all kinds of PPE. We are happy to share those experience with different options.

Hand protection
How to choose hand protection?

Everything about standards, coating, dexterity and advice

Eye and facial protection
Good protection is essential.

All information about standards, types and maintenance.

Who we are
VeiligGoed in a nutshell

Read more about our mission and services

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