Nearly half of managers may underreport hand injuries, says safety report

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A recent safety report has identified critical trends in safety practices with regards to hand protection in Australia and New Zealand.

Safety product company Ansell surveyed 381 respondents for the report — with 12 per cent being from the mining industry — over a one-month period late last year, including one-on-one interviews with 10 representatives from major companies. The result, the 2017 Hand Safety Report, produced in association with the National Safety Council of Australia (NSCA), saw some insightful feedback.

Half of respondents stated that their company’s overall safety performance had improved since the first report in 2016, though nearly half (47 per cent) of safety managers reported concerns about underreporting hand injuries, with the main reasons being concerns around perceived blame or punishment, according to Jamie Burrage, NSCA Foundation general manager.

Forty-three per cent of organisations also cited that they were unsure of their injury costs, and of those that did, it was estimated that hand injuries were responsible for an average $60,000 cost per year out of overall injury costs of $350,000 per year.

“The estimated costs of hand injuries should reinforce to employers that higher standards of safety not only limit the risk to their employee, but also the risk to the bottom line,” said Burrage.

Materials handling is one of the leading causes of injury within the global mining industry. According to a mining safety and training supervisor surveyed in the report, rehabilitation and time off work are major factors in the overall costs, not just the injury itself.

The supervisor also added that proper safety gloves helped to prevent ‘burst’ injuries such as cuts.

“If you’re talking to someone with a cut finger and they’re not able to work, you don’t just look at the injury cost, you look at the recovery cost, the rehiring cost, loss of production and that’s where a lot of it lies,” the supervisor said.

“The type of gloves that we use these days are helping prevent burst injuries and cuts and such. We’ve seen a big decline in the cost of rehabilitation.”