After discovering that 33 per cent of all its members' injuries are hand related, Master Plumbers Victoria sought Ansell's help introducing a compulsory glove-wear policy for apprentices.
"As a result, we reduced hand injuries by 80 per cent and saved $118,000 in injury management expenses over six years," said Rod Tresidder, Master Plumbers' OHS Officer.
According to WorkSafe Victoria, 50 Victorian construction workers are injured every week, and 11 per cent of these injuries are hand-related. However, this statistic could be significantly reduced with improved compliance with onsite glove-wear policies.
Of all the hand injuries experienced by Master Plumbers' members over a six year period, 78 per cent were cuts and of those 50 per cent were also lost time injuries. So the prevention of cut injuries was among the program's key objectives.
As one apprentice said, "My work involves removing metal studs, jack hammering and handling glue solvents and silicon. Because Ansell's PowerFlex 80-813 gloves offer protection across all those tasks, I don't need to keep taking them on and off. And they're strong enough to prevent cuts when I handle sharp steel edges".
Due to their core glass fibre, PowerFlex 80-813 gloves combine a high level of cut protection (Level 5) and flame resistance (Level 4) in one design.
Commenting on safety compliance among younger workers, Tresidder said: "Our apprentices are smart. They don't want to damage their hands; they want to look well-groomed outside work and they are now more accustomed to wearing gloves".
Apprentices encouraged to speak up if unsure
However, there is still cause for concern about the safety of younger workers across the wider construction industry. So much so, that WorkSafe Victoria recently launched an advertising campaign, Not Sure Ask, encouraging workers aged 15-24 to speak up if they are unsure how to use equipment, apply chemicals or handle machinery.
According to WorkCover Chief Executive Denise Cosgrove said: "Our research tells us that many young workers don't want to appear stupid or incapable in front of colleagues or supervisors.
"It's essential employers and supervisors not only provide appropriate supervision and training but create a workplace where all workers feel comfortable about speaking up."
While these findings highlight the importance of experienced workers setting a good example, they also demonstrate the need for mandatory glove-wear policies that leave no room for interpretation.
Master Plumbers and Ansell are already discussing another compulsory glove trial to further boost hand safety among plumbers, this time using ActivArmr 97-005 Plumbers Gloves.