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Card #15

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A box cutter or utility knife is one of the most versatile tools around, with a razor-sharp blade that's used to cut open boxes and remove packaging. It's also one of the most dangerous tools around, able to cause major injury in an instant if it slips.

The FACTS: What you need to KNOW

  1. Cutting tools are common in the workplace. They cause 30 percent of workplace injuries, and 70 percent of those are hand lacerations.
  2. A dull knife can have a higher potential for injury than a sharp one. That's because a dull knife requires more pressure and can slip.
  3. Retracting the blade and storing the knife safely keeps both you and other volunteers safe.
  4. Using a box cutter for the wrong task can cause severe injury. For example, they are not meant for prying.
  5. There are ways to make box cutters safer, like cut-resistant gloves and box cutters with enclosed or concealed blades.

The Actions: What you need to DO

Check the box cutter and make sure it has the right blade installed correctly. It must be sharp and free from rust or corrosion. The blade should be retractable.

Before cutting, make sure you are stable and balanced and the cutting path is clear. Draw the knife away from your body. Reposition the box or make two cuts if you can't reach.

When cutting thick material, make two or more passes. Don't use more pressure, or the knife might slip.

Retract the blade as soon as you are done cutting and set it in a safe place. Don't set it down or carry it with the blade exposed. Don't hold it when performing a task that requires both hands, like typing.

Volunteer Safety Videos are under development and will be available in 2023.

Links, Resources & More

  • Take a free safety course from Nonprofit Safety Hero.
  • Use the free APPapp to help your organization create an Accident Prevention Program.
  • Learn more about OSHA and WISHA laws that govern workplace safety for both volunteers and paid workers.
  • View a complete list of volunteer safety topics from Volunter Safety Hero.