Safety Focus: Laceration Injuries

Safety Focus: Laceration Injuries

Lacerations and cuts occur regularly in the maritime industry varying from scratches and abrasions to puncture wounds and amputations.  Historically, laceration injuries are relatively small when compared to other incident types.  However, finger injuries account for almost half of all laceration injuries.  ALMA claims data related to cut, puncture, and scrape injuries from January 2017 to January 2020 showed that these injuries account for nearly 5% of the claim count and approximately 5% of the total incurred costs.  Using proper PPE, relevant training, and controls can greatly reduce injuries and related claim costs.



Common Laceration/Cut/Puncture Injury Types

  • Cutting a body part from tool slippage
  • Tool kick-back onto the user
  • Slipping onto the ground or into nearby objects/equipment


Contributing Factors

  1. Wrong tool/poor condition. Use the right tool for the job.  Inspect thoroughly before using.  Use tool in the correct manner.  Ensure blade/disk is sharp.

  2. Missing or improperly adjusted guards.  Don’t leave exposed blades unattended.  Keep tools with blades in a closed position when not in use.  Ensure angle grinder guards are attached.

  3. Poor lighting.  Adequate lighting is necessary for employees to clearly see the object they are working on.

  4. Clutter and debris.  Good housekeeping promotes a safer work environment.  Excess debris can impede correct tool usage, and positioning needed to safely complete the job.

  5. Lack of training.  Employees must know and understand the potential hazards of their assigned work.

  6. Working too fast.  Do not rush. Complacency and a lack of situational awareness can quickly lead to an injury.

  7. Not focusing on the task at hand.  Familiarize yourself with the work environment, recognize hazards, and determine ways to eliminate the hazards.

  8. Failure to wear proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  Wear necessary PPE including eyewear, face shield, and cut or splinter-resistant gloves.  While long sleeve shirts are not necessarily PPE, they can provide some protection from laceration injuries and should be worn when appropriate.

  9. Not following safety procedures.  Make sure the tool is always secure while cutting, and never hold the item being cut in your hand. Keep the non-cutting hand clear of the path of the cut.


Exclusive for ALMA Members: Laceration Injuries Resource Site

As part of our monthly Safety Focus initiative, the ALMA member resource website has a page providing safety resources for preventing laceration injuries. Resources include:

  • OSHA guidance
  • Control strategies

ALMA members may access that page by clicking here (login required). If you have not yet registered for access,  click here to do so.

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