Through IBT and MCR Safety, bed spring manufacturer Leggett & Platt (L&P) evaluated their current hand protection products at a facility in Winchester, KY. The results led them to believe there was room for improvement to offer better protection for employees.
At the present gloves are not required PPE, but upper management’s commitment to the safety and comfort of their employees, along with the support of continuous improvement processes, aided the effort of evaluating hand protection. MCR Consulting and Compliance’s Doug Little supplied glove samples to test in the operation’s rigorous environment. The no obligation, on-site consulting service from MCR also included observation and analysis of processes.
Russell Allen, the Quality Assurance (QA) technician at the facility, was tasked with completing a glove performance evaluation of L&P’s hand protection to identify what could be done to reduce hand stress and prevent potential cuts, burns, and metal shavings from penetrating workers’ hands and arms.
The work environment involves light cutting coils, reaching past the extremely sharp edges of coiled springs after they have been cut, confined spaces, and speed of process. The worker needs to reach into the spring assembly, and their gloves mustn’t be tacky to where it slows the movement of some 3,000 units produced each day.
Allen performed interviews with employees to identify the strengths and weaknesses of each of the current gloves in use.
Selecting the right glove for each of the different operations in the facility was chief concern. Employees needed proper fitting and correct hand protection for the various jobs they perform. For wire forming machine specialists and operators, there was not current hand protection in place that was suitable to their activities of repairing and operating machinery.
One of the current gloves in use for VRC operators, border benders, and craters provided excellent hand protection, but had poor fit and required an extensive break-in period. The stitching on the glove’s fingers commonly came undone after a short time, and left the wearer vulnerable to injury.
A nitrile glove used by the same employees had several major complaints: poor fit, long break-in period, offensive smell to hands, and stiff cuff that worn hair off the back of the arm. To make the glove more bearable, several users would remove the cuff from the glove, leaving that area unprotected.
In December 2009, Doug Little of MCR met with a production manager at the facility that was committed to addressing the need for proper hand protection.
L&P implemented samples of various hand protection, tested them for wear, tracked the time the hand protection was in use in the production environment, and interviewed employees again to find out the results. All the new hand protection lasted one week of production, and in some cases, lasted even longer.
Wire forming machine specialists and operators tested MG9694 UltraTech Air InfusedTM gloves. The UltraTech allowed for the freedom of movement their tasks require. The glove protects workers from cuts, burns, and metal chips and still allows for the dexterity they need.
VRC operators, border benders, and crater employees tested two types of gloves: a leather and fabric glove a nitrile glove. The Memphis 9790 PredatouchTM palm coated gloves tested to be more form-fitting with no break-in period, provided better grip, and produced less hand fatigue than the current glove in use. In fact, the Safety Manager and Continuous Improvement Team requested that nine other locations evaluate this product.
The same employees also tested Memphis 9786 PredaliteÂ®, which features a 2 Â½ inch PVC safety cuff. The users reported virtually no break-in period. Predalite gloves are also treated with Actifresh, which resolved the offensive smell issue. The QA technician reported that everyone that tested this glove preferred it to the old glove.
Russell Allen recommended that MCR’s UltraTech, Predatouch and Predalite be stocked in three sizes to accommodate employees. According to Allen, the MG9697 Ultra Tech gloves are “a clear cut choice at an affordable price.” With the support that MCR and IBT offered, Allen says the project was easy and that has been a great success for their partners.
Allen said he believes the formula for a successful glove evaluation includes upper management support and continuous improvement processes along with excellent support and products from MCR and IBT. “The greatest joy for me is to talk to the partners that are wearing the gloves and to hear their stories. One operator told me since he has the option to wear these gloves, this is the first time he and his wife can hold hands because he no longer has small cuts and burns on his hands.”
Evaluating the current hand protection at L&P and testing various MCR gloves proved to be very fruitful. They identified areas of improvement and found new hand protection solutions through IBT that address the needs of their various applications. Because the commitment to safety and end user satisfaction was made, L&P’s employees in Winchester will be better protected and more comfortable in their work environment.
Although coming to a solution was a long-term process that spanned 15 months, MCR and IBT worked with Leggett & Platt to identify the best product that met their requirements. And the service doesn’t stop here. IBT and MCR intend to visit Winchester again to reassess how the gloves are holding up after they have been implemented.
Images courtesy of MCR Safety