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AGC flat glass Czech a.s. cuts glass-handling risks

Supplier: Ansell Industrial Healthcare
23 June, 2011

AGC Flat Glass Czech a.s. employs 2,500 people at six production sites and nine distribution centres in Czech republic.

The AGC Group is part of Asahi Glass Co, Ltd and is the leading manufacturer of float glass and its applications in Central and Eastern Europe.

In recent years AGC Flat Glass Czech a.s has conducted an in-depth modernisation programme on its production equipment. It is constantly optimising its productivity, particularly for the manufacture of high added-value glass capable of providing protection from heat, cold, noise, fire, intruders and accidents.

A part of its facility restructure workforce rationalisation, as well as to guarantee its future productivity, AGC has introduced a series of preventative measures aimed at maximising safety at work. As a result of these efforts, the company has been awarded OHSAS 18001 certification, the highly sought-after international benchmark for health and safety management.

Among all these initiatives, the search for the most appropriate solutions for protecting the hands of operators in the production process remains a constant priority. Despite the large-scale automation of the company's processes, handling, cutting and storing glass continue to present significant risks in terms of cuts and bruises.

"Being unable to get a good grip on the glass and having uncomfortable hands while you are working can result in sheets of glass being dropped," says Petra Chromcová, Safety Manager at AGC Flat Glass Czech a.s.

"Apart from the material losses involved, it can also mean serious injuries to hands and legs - injuries that can occasionally be fatal. Also, the special and sometimes sensitive surfaces involved with modern qualities of glass create an additional difficulty when it comes to selecting the most appropriate protective gloves to use. It's our priority to avoid any possible deterioration to the surface caused by handling this glass with materials that are too rough."

"When it came to gloves, we called in Ansell to help us. After visiting six of our production sites in person, the specialists at Ansell defined the risks and requirements specific to each operating station.

They then put forward a series of gloves for testing, some of which were replaced by others based on feedback from the operators, depending on whether they needed more or less sensitivity to touch. They also looked for a balance between protection against cuts, the specific needs involved in handling the glass, quality of grip and other factors."

Chromcová said, "The regular personal contacts we have with a specialist from Ansell are invaluable. He visits our locations, analyses the operating stations, assesses our requirements and organises tests with protective gloves."

"After six months of testing, AGC selected the four types of Ansell gloves and sleeves best suited to each operation, all of which provided a sufficient level of protection against cuts.

"Then, to make sure staff actually wore the gloves, clear information about the right PPE to use was displayed at each of the operating stations and only that particular equipment was made available there. Any operators reluctant to adopt the gloves are immediately counselled by safety officers," Chromcová said.

In addition to achieving a record period of 1000 days without any injuries at the Kryry plant, AGC Flat Glass Czech a.s’ adoption of Ansell gloves has created numerous benefits, both for the company and its staff.

The overall benefit is enhanced safety, productivity and operator satisfaction. There has also been a dramatic reduction in the number of accidents requiring external assistance (reduced by 70% in five years); fewer production stoppages due to injuries; greater productivity and faster glass-handling procedures thanks to the combination of protection, comfort and sensitivity provided by the gloves; reduced operator fatigue; fewer losses associated with glass breakages; good protection of the surface of the glass and excellent acceptance by operators.

Gloves used by AGC are NitraSafe, for protection against cuts; Sol-Vex, for chemical resistance combined with comfort; Gladiator, providing better performance for light-to-medium stress glass handling and excellent wet-and-dry grip produced by the crinkle finish; PVA , for cost-cutting protection against organic solvents; Neptune Kevlar sleeves, for effective forearm protection, with unaffected handling dexterity and HyFlex 11-628 and 11-630 for balance of comfort and sure handling with superior cut resistance.