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.
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:
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.
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.
 Arbowet 1999, Art. 5
 Arbobesluit 1997, H. 7
 Arbobesluit 1997, Art. 7.13
 Arbobesluit 1997, Art. 7.4, lid 1& 2
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?
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?
- 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
- Cutting-proof gloves
- Arm protection
- Cutting-proof clothes (sawing pants)
- Footwear (sawing shoes, boots)
- Leg protection (gaiters; protection against thorns)
How do you create awareness & support?
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.
AdviceOur 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.