We’ve all heard the adage “There’s more than one side to every story.” And workplace safety is no different. Between federal regulators, local government agencies, business leaders, financial officers, safety leadership, PPE manufacturers and distributors, and the frontline workers themselves, it can seem like there are a dozen sides to every safety story.
In this article, we’ll take a look at one particular safety story—hand safety. We’ll examine workplace hand protection from three different angles: that of the employer or CEO, that of the safety management, and that of the workers. We’ll consider what each group really wants when it comes to cut-resistant gloves and how to use those wants to sell in safety investments—whether those investments are money, energy, or time.
WHAT BUSINESS OWNERS WANT
No matter how strong the safety leadership is at a business, the job of the CEO or employer is ultimately this: to keep the doors open. Business owners are—and should be—concerned about the numbers. How much does this glove cost over that one? What’s the return on investment in safety training?
They’re more likely to see personal protective equipment in dollars signs, not safety rankings. They’re more likely to see safety training as a cost, not an investment. And they’re more likely to see safety best practices as workplace inefficiencies.
Luckily, there’s a numbers side to hand safety. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the average hand injury claim exceeds $6,000. And that number doesn’t even account for indirect injury costs, which can run up to four times the direct costs. Furthermore, hand injuries are consistently one of the most common types of injuries in the workplace.
When it comes to talking cut-resistant gloves with business leaders, focus on the numbers. Explain that gloves cost more because they last longer or provide higher cut resistance, which gives them a higher ROI over the course of the glove-life. Speak about training investments in terms of number of prevented injuries, injury costs saved, and reduction in turnover. If numbers are what counts, show how they add up.
WHAT SAFETY LEADERS WANT
Like business leaders, safety managers should have a singular focus—and that focus should be on the safety of all workers. Safety leaders are looking for top-to-bottom measures to protect their workforces—whether that’s safer processes, better training, improved PPE, or upgraded equipment.
Safety leaders are more likely to see accidents in terms of Occupational Safety and Health Administration fines along with hours of reporting, paperwork, and documentation. These professionals are more likely to be interested in whether or not a glove provides the required level of cut protection instead of at what quantity they can get a cost break. They’re more likely to ask about thermal protection and chemical resistance than grip, sweating, and dexterity. And they’re more likely to respond to case studies than sales discounts.
Safety leaders should always be thinking safety first. Their focus is on which gloves will protect their workforce from injuries or help prevent accidents from happening in the first place. When talking hand safety investments with these individuals, safety should be your focus too. Lead with proven protection, demonstrated performance, and clear examples of safety excellence.
WHAT WORKERS WANT
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to get the job done. And for most workers, that’s the primary top-of-mind goal every single day. Of course no one wants accidents or injuries, but workers tend to be more concerned with how safety measures will slow them down or make their jobs difficult rather than how it will protect them from hazards.
Workers are more likely to care about how bulky a glove is, how hot it gets when they’ve been wearing it for an hour, how well it maintains a grip when wet, how easy it is to clean, or how much it hampers dexterity. They’re less concerned about a level 4 glove versus a level 5 glove—and likely not at all concerned about a cheap glove versus an expensive glove. It’s all about how the glove helps—or hinders—them when it comes to getting the job done.
When selling the idea of wearing gloves to workers, it’s critical to focus on the glove qualities they’re most concerned about. Cut-resistance levels are important, sure. But every worker thinks an accident will never happen to him or her, so focus instead on how the gloves will make their job easier, not harder.
WHAT TODAY’S GLOVES DELIVER
Employers are watching the bottom line. Safety leaders are zoned in on safety. Employees just want to do their jobs. And in order for PPE to work as designed, you need all three parties on board. Luckily, glove technology has evolved in recent years to provide PPE solutions that meet everyone’s wants and the ultimate need for cut protection in the workplace.
Innovative glove materials provide the comfort, dexterity, and grip employees are looking for without sacrificing cut protection. As DSM Dyneema’s Matt Reid wrote in a recent article, “Advances in cut-resistant fiber technology help to eliminate reasons why workers fail to use protective gloves. High-performance textiles, based on ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), offer light weight, less bulk and comfort and durability…The fiber can deliver cut resistance up to Level 5.”
That makes both employees and safety managers happy. Plus, these new materials are easy to take care of and hold up better over time, making them a better investment for employers. Thanks to new and improved glove technology, we can all be on the same side of the safety story.