Hand injuries amongst a group of apprentice plumbers dropped by a massive 80 per cent after Rod Tresidder, Master Plumbers’ OHS Officer, introduced a trial scheme that made wearing particular gloves compulsory.
As part of a recent PPE trial, Master Plumbers’ OHS officer, Rod Tresidder, made it mandatory for all the Master Plumbers’ group training scheme’s, Plumbing Apprenticeships Victoria, apprentices to wear Ansell PowerFlex 80-813 safety gloves on the job.
‘Having monitored our plumbing injury statistics over a period of six years, we know that 33 three per cent of all the injuries experienced by our apprentices were hand injuries,’ explains Rod.
‘Of these, 78 per cent are cuts and of those, a massive 50 percent are also lost time injuries.’
After making this striking discovery, Master Plumbers invited industrial glove maker Ansell to help them implement a hand-protection program targeting apprentices.
‘As a result of this initiative we reduced apprentice hand injuries by 80 per cent,’ said Rod.
Daniel Dew is a fourth-year apprentice with Master Plumbers who is currently being hosted by CDC Plumbing for the Upper West Side Apartments project.
‘Our work involves hazardous tasks like removing metal studs, jack hammering and handling adhesives, and other harmful compounds such as glue solvents and silicon,’ he explained.
‘The gloves I received during induction provide good protection across a range of tasks so I don’t need to keep putting them on and taking them off,’ he said.
‘They’re also strong enough to prevent cuts when I handle sharp steel edges.’
The gloves provided both a high level of cut protection and flame resistance (Level 4 for flame resistance and Level 5 for cut resistance).
‘They are also incredibly comfortable. They provide a snug fit while at the same time allowing my hands to breathe so they don’t get too hot,’ added Daniel.
The gloves have a soft foam coating that offers exceptional grip, decreasing slippage and hand tension when it comes to wet and oily jobs or handling small materials, like nuts and bolts.
According to Daniel, the gloves can last for several months depending on the duties being undertaken.
‘They are a lot stronger than many other gloves I have tried and their durability is impressive,’ he said.
Occupational health, safety and environment coordinator, Kiri Spiridopoulos, looks after the safety of 140 plumbers at CDC Plumbing and Drainage said, ‘ever since Master Plumbers made it mandatory for apprentices to wear gloves, we have observed a substantial reduction in hand lacerations.’
‘Our company has a compulsory glove-wear policy and I apply that vigorously. These gloves have made my job easier because apprentices actually like wearing them,’ said Kiri.
‘By making sure staff wear the right gloves, we have not only improved productivity and efficiency but, more importantly, reduced injury rates among apprentices,’ said Rod.
‘I am not only delighted to have dramatically reduced hand injuries, I am also proud that Master Plumbers has saved members around $118,000 in annual injury management expenses just by ensuring apprentices wear their gloves,’ he concluded.
Master Plumbers and Ansell are already discussing another glove trial, this time using gloves specifically designed for plumbers that are high in comfort, dexterity and cut protection. The new gloves have also been designed to provide plumbers with outstanding grip when handling slippery, warm or hot pipes and other plumbing materials.
New generation of ‘safety-savvy’ plumbers
On the issue of safety compliance among younger workers specifically, Rod explains that apprentices these days are smart.
‘They don’t want to damage their hands; they want to look well-groomed outside work and they are more accustomed to wearing gloves because it’s always been that way.’
‘Meanwhile, some older plumbers still feel a stigma associated with protecting one’s hands. Others have tried working with gloves in the past, unsuccessfully, and are reluctant to wear them now, despite dramatic improvements in design and technology. Those workers are more likely to take unnecessary risks or make it hard for others to comply.’
The interaction between older and younger plumbers is generally positive, though –
‘Leading PPE firms are constantly developing new technologies to improve on the already high level of comfort, dexterity, tactility and grip provided by the new generation of safety gloves’, said Rod.
‘And with safe work practices de rigueur for most young plumbers, compliance will likely spread throughout the industry as apprentices mature into senior tradesmen.’