Statistics indicate that knives are more frequently the source
of disabling injuries than any other hand tool. People in
all occupations are injured by knives-the high school student
working in the supermarket produce department, the retail
store employee who attempts to open a box, the slaughterhouse
worker, the salad chef. Actually, all of us are frequently
exposed to knife injuries for no other reason than the fact
that a knife is a very useful and therefore much-used tool.
By the time we were old enough to work, most of
us had already learned the basic dangers associated with knives.
Hiking, camping, or just plain whittling usually bring on
enough accidental cuts to acquaint a young person with some
of those realities. But we didn't always learn the safety
precautions as quickly.
The principal hazard in using a knife in industry,
safety experts have concluded, is that the user's hand may
slip from the handle onto the blade, causing a painful and
possibly serious injury. Keeping handles dry and nongreasy
will help prevent this mishap. A handle guard will eliminate
Another cause for injury is the knife's striking
the free hand or the body. When using a knife, the cutting
stroke should be away from the body whenever possible. Otherwise,
adequate protection should be worn to protect the body. Mail
gloves are available for selected industries such as meat
packing, where materials must be held close to where the knife
will cut. Provisions should also be made to hold materials
If it's necessary to carry a knife on the job,
it should be in a sheath or holder. Safety experts recommend
that the sheath be worn over the right or left hip and toward
the back. A knife carried in front or over the leg could
cause a serious injury in a fall.
Storage of knives is an important safety factor,
too. Exposed cutting edges should be covered, and knives
should be kept in their proper place, not left on benches
or on the floor.
First aid is very important if you are cut by
a knife. Even the smallest cut should be treated to help
avoid infection. Injury records are full of cases in which
someone neglected a small injury and blood poisoning developed,
causing several weeks of lost time from the job.
One of the more publicized cases occurred many
years ago when the son of Calvin Coolidge died from a blister
that was neglected. Certainly, any serious complications
from a cut are even more tragic these days when there are
so many first-aid treatments available.
It's often said that there's nothing more painful
than getting cut with a dull knife. That may be a slight
exaggeration, but it brings up a good point-keep knives sharp
and in good condition. A dull knife can cause you to put
too much pressure on the object you're trying to cut, and
the blade could slip and slice you or someone nearby.
Never use a knife that is defective-for instance,
one that has a broken handle or blade. Of course, a sure
way to break a knife is to throw it or use it as a screwdriver.
Use your knife only for what it was meant to do.
If you're using the right knife for the job, it
should cut without difficulty. When you have to resort to
sheer force to make a knife cut, you're headed for trouble:
damage to the knife or to the material you're attempting to
cut or, worst of all, injury to yourself or someone else.