For a sector that prides itself on its good environment and health & safety record, the insulation industry is letting itself down badly in one key area – why do we allow our staff to use lethal weapons at work, putting themselves at risk of injury or even arrest?
Many vital controls are in place make workplaces safer and more measures are constantly under review – think PPE, access equipment and power tools – but it remains a fact the tool of choice for many insulation operatives to cut the materiel they are working with is likely to be a domestic kitchen knife, brought from a home-ware shop and have no safe way of carrying it or storing it when not in use.
The risk of injury is obvious: kitchen knives are not meant to be carried in overall pockets or – most alarmingly – shoved into the operative’s waistband.
It is time the insulation trade took responsibility for improving standards, focused on raising this issue and correct the outdated idea kitchen knives are the only tools insulation operatives can use.
Fortunately there is now a way for the industry to sharpen up its act… Following a serious injury suffered by an insulation operative who tripped and fell on his unsheathed kitchen knife whilst moving around on site, a leading H&V company asked what the insulation trade was intending to do to prevent injuries to insulation operatives using inappropriate tool.
The response was the Safeblade System, designed to combat the numerous problems associated with knife safety in construction, including the safer storage, use and carrying of knives. Safeblade offers the first recognisable insulation trade tool, a vast improvement on the standard that has been allowed in the insulation industry for years.
TICA has used and successfully tested the Safeblade and sees it as an industry recognisable tool the improving standards. Leading companies have introduced this ‘best practice’ standard into their working practice and have incorporated this system into their method statements/risk assessments.
The result is fewer accidents, a more responsible attitude by employers and Operatives; and a more professional approach to a key aspect of the trade.
We believe the Safeblade System is the answer to a long overdue problem within the insulation industry.
Knife crime is high on the current news agenda, with public concern prompting action by police and the courts.
Police are adopting tan almost zero-tolerance policy on the carrying of offensive weapons in public – which can include domestic kitchen knives – and metal detectors are being installed in train and bus stations up and down the county.
The extent to which this will effect our industry is only now becoming apparent, with worrying evidence emerging…
A trainee returning home from the TICA training centre in Darlington was arrested after a scanner on public transport picked up the kitchen knife he was carrying. the police refused to accept his explanation that he was an engineer and needed the knife for work. their response was “This is a bread knife, not a tool of your trade.”
The law states anyone caught in possession of a knife could face two years in jail.
Metal detectors will be used at stations across the UK to stop people carrying knives. Police have been testing the scheme in London for the past two months, using airport-style scanners and sniffer dogs.
Since the project, called Operation Shield, started, almost 10,000 people have been scanned, 68 knives seized and 100 people arrested. The plan is now up and running in Birmingham, Liverpool and the North-East, and will eventually be used UK-wide.
The fundamental question is “Why are unsheathed domestic dagger kitchen knives still carried in public places between construction sites?” The obvious answer is to carry the trade’s recognised tool and avoid putting operatives at risk of arrest and a criminal record.