Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Better Gloves Handle Injuries and Costs

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Better Gloves Handle Injuries and Costs

Article excerpt

The people at AutoAlliance, a Ford-Mazda partnership, are committed to protecting workers' hands and arms from cuts, abrasions and other injuries.

HAVING GLOVES TEAR after only a few hours of use is an indication that a hand protection program isn't working. At AutoAlliance, a Ford-Mazda plant in Flat Rock, Mich., it spurred changes in the gloves used and how the program was managed.

"It wasn't that hard to find the weak parts in the program," health and safety leader Kevin Rayburg said. "We were not getting consistent glove quality from our vendor, so people didn't have faith in what they were wearing. We didn't have a lot of confidence in our program."

Many of the 3,500 employees at the 7-year-old plant, which manufactures the Mazda MX-6 and 626 and Ford Probe, handle sharp parts and dies. According to Rayburg, minor injuries and near misses that could have resulted in serious injuries led the facility to overhaul the hand protection program.

Better Gloves

The traditional method of selecting gloves -- choosing them based on past practice and price -- was not working at the Flat Rock plant. It was not uncommon for employees to need new gloves every couple of hours or to wear two pairs for hand protection.

In response, Rayburg, working with vendors, his company's purchasing department and employees, developed specifications for the weight, size and shape of gloves. After surveying employees about their glove needs, the company decided to stock eight different styles to address heavyweight protection, dexterity and material handling. Before committing to certain gloves, the facility tested them on the floor and sent them out to be laundered.

In the high-risk metal stamping and body assembly operations, the company specified 26-ounce gloves made of pure Kevlar, not a Kevlar-fiber blend as before. The old gloves lasted as little as 2 hours. …

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