New ANSI 105-2016 Cut Level Standards

ANSI 105-2016 Cut Level Standards

Workplace Safety – All Hands on Deck

When considering workplace safety in construction, manufacturing, logistics, and other industries where manual labor is performed, among the most common matters that need to be addressed by employers and workers is protecting workers’ hands from injury. Statistics about non-fatal injuries documented for labor employees show that more than 20% of injuries that cause lost time involve hand injuries, which makes sense considering that humans naturally tend to use their hands to accomplish the significant majority of work that is done. That’s just how we’re configured.

So how do we make sure our hands, the precious tools we use to do so many amazing things, are protected from accidents and injuries? ANSI cut level standards play an important role in facilitating interactions between workers, employers, and the government that improve safety

ANSI’s Role As A Standard Setter

ANSI, the American National Standards Institute, is the non-profit standards organization most recognized for its role in setting US standards for products, processes, and other elements of American society. ANSI membership represents 125,000 companies and over 3.5 million professionals, the collective knowledge of which group contributes to a standard of living that the rest of the United States and the rest of the world enjoy.

ANSI regularly rolls out new standards for workplace safety. Their standards reflect the feedback ANSI experts have for the respective industries they serve based upon constantly evolving scenarios. Each new published standard represents the most recent expert opinion about how things should be done.

Old ANSI Recommendation for Hand Safety and Cut Standards

Regarding protecting hands from work injuries, ANSI’s latest 2016 publications include the 2016 ANSI Cut Level Standard, which informs the public about rating the capability of gloves to prevent potential accidents and injuries that tend to occur in various work environments. These ratings allow employers and their workers to make intelligent choices and purchase gloves that protect their hands sufficiently based upon identified risk exposure for their respective work tasks.

Previous to the release of the 2016 ANSI Cut Level Standard, the ANSI standard for material used for making gloves used a 0 to 5 scale, with a rating of 4 spanning the widest variation, going from 1500 to 3499 grams of weight needed to cut the material with a 1-inch blade travel. Testing for cut resistance is done using a test method referred to as ASTM F 1790, in which the material’s cut resistance to various loads (described in grams of force) is determined. Until 2015, that scale broke down as follows:

Level 0 – less than 200 grams

Level 1: 200 – 499 grams

Level 2: 500 – 999 grams

Level 3: 1000 – 1499 grams

Level 4: 1500 – 3499 grams

Level 5: 3500+ grams

As you can see, intervals 4 and 5 cover a much wider range than the other rating levels. As material science has developed, and more precision has been inserted in the construction of glove material, those intervals have been expanded to match glove material with usefulness for specific tasks by creating a new, more robust set of criteria.

The New ANSI 105-2016 Cut Level Standard

The most recent ANSI standard, ANSI 105-2016 updated the ISEA-2011 standard as shown in the charts below. Major differences in the 2016 standard include:

  • The testing mechanism used to determine cut resistance according to the new standard is the ASTM F2992-15 (TDM) standardized test, which uses a Tomodynamometer to perform repeatable cut resistance testing.
  • The updated ANSI/ISEA classifications include an ‘A’ next to the level number to more clearly identify the new standard.
  • Levels 4 and 5 have been redefined to cover 6 different resistant levels, as identified in the chart below.

Cut Levels and Common Work Glove Uses

The ultimate value provided by the ANSI 105 standard is the ability for employers and workers to confidently select gloves that match the work they will be performing. For extreme cut hazards, such as heavy metal stamping, plate glass handling, and some pulp and paper applications, workers should wear gloves that are rated higher on the ANSI cut level standard chart, somewhere between 5-9. For less hazardous activities, such as light metal stamping and light-duty glass handling environments, workers can get away with ANSI cut level 3 gloves, which are normally less expensive than the more technical gloves that meet the higher, cut level standards. For work applications such as automotive maintenance and, paper assembly, and material handling, ANSI cut level 1 gloves, which tend to be even less expensive than gloves rated at higher ANSI cut levels.

Using the ANSI 105-2016 Cut Level Standards, employers can outfit their personnel with gloves that most economically provide adequate protection for their hands. This standard contributes to safety in the workplace and addresses protecting workers’ hands, one of the most vulnerable aspects of jobs that involve manual labor.

For Construction Companies, OSHA Compliance Is A Balancing Act

OSHA Regulations Balancing Act Worker Safety

By Richard Robbins

In the construction industry, there is a battle that takes place each workday between OSHA, the agency that governs workplace safety in the United States, and the companies over which it has jurisdiction.  On one side are companies that must find ways to thrive in industries that are often competitive.  These companies want to stay in business at the very least, but their ultimate goal is to obviously make a decent profit. While they may be legitimately concerned about employee safety and overall welfare, leaders of many of these companies see OSHA as a major threat to their bottom line and to their survival.


OSHA Regulates Safety in the Construction Industry

One of the most common complaints from business owners about OSHA is its ability to fine exorbitant amounts for issues that can be difficult to control.  Dan Phillips, the owner of a small Kansas-based roofing company who was fined $4,600 (reduced from $23,000 because his was a small business) recently because one of his employees temporarily unlatched his safety rope on the job within site of an OSHA inspector, explained that “If you watch a construction site long enough, someone is going to do something stupid.”

There is no doubt that OSHA’s existence has made the workplace safer by essentially saving people from themselves or from the dangers of their work environments, but at what cost? From my own experience, it’s obvious that the nature of construction workers does not normally prioritize complying with safety codes that feel to be silly and unwarranted. Those responsible for the safety and compliance of their crews are at the mercy of employees who often think that, for instance, the OSHA requirement that they wear OSHA-compliant safety harnesses when working six feet above the ground on a construction site, doesn’t apply to them and their risk level. It is impossible to police those who choose not to follow the boss’ orders, even when they’ve been trained.

OSHA's regulations include codes for electrocution hazards.

Violations of OSHA regulations exist on almost any major construction site, but most of those infractions are not brought to light until an accident attracts the attention of an OSHA investigation, as in the recent case of a welder working for Metal Shredders, an Ohio-based recycling company, who was electrocuted after stepping on a live electrical line. The ensuing OSHA investigation concluded that the company should be fined $115,000 because, among other violations they found, they didn’t properly protect the welder from the electrical line.  OSHA also determined that Metal Shredders’ parent company, Cohen Brothers, should be fined $21,000 for not training their personnel properly on how to protect against electrical hazards similar to what killed the welder in this fatal incident, which opened the doors for an OSHA investigation of the companies safety history and procedures.

The long history of conflicting interests of regulating governing bodies and entrepreneurs is sure to continue. However, efforts on the part of OSHA with local and national business leaders to cooperate and focus more on training and safety empowerment rather than the antagonistic “fine first, ask questions later” relationship that has historically existed have made some progress.  OSHA has a training institute that aims to provide tuition-based training courses for construction employees, managers, and others responsible for ensuring compliance.

There’s no question, owners of construction-related businesses have to a lot of things to worry about. The possibility of OSHA fines and other aspects of maintaining safe work environments can be impossible to balance with productivity and controlling costs.

Motor Vehicle Safety Hazards Overlooked Because of Familiarity

Car Accident Motor Vehicle Statistics

Several months ago I had my first opportunity to fly in a private airplane. A friend of my in-laws invited me and my wife to go to lunch near Austin, Texas.  Just prior to takeoff, I observed him flipping through a booklet and working his way down a checklist. Instinctively, I was curious about what exactly was going through his mind as he perused his plane’s reference manual. After all, my wife and I were putting our lives and safety in his care.

Flying a Sessna Requires Caution
Flying a private airplane requires going through a preparation checklist and being vigilant while in the air.
If driving a car were taken as seriously, there would be much fewer casualties on American roads each year.

The conversation went like this.

“Should I be worried that you’re reading through an instruction manual as we get ready for takeoff?  Don’t you already know that stuff?”

“It isn’t the guy who’s reading through a checklist you should be worried about.  It’s the one who thinks he already knows everything, and who doesn’t refer to his checklist. If you’re ever riding with someone who hops in the pilot seat and begins the flight without going through the preflight routine, that’s when you should be worried!”

Good point.

In many aspects of life, familiarity with a skill can often bring with it a casual attitude that can be dangerous, if not fatal.

So it it is with driving.

In the United States, the number one cause of death from unintentional injuries is motor vehicle crashes.  The most recent “Deaths” report, published by the CDC in 2013, listed motor vehicle crashes as the number one cause of deaths in the United States from unintentional injuries, with 33,804 deaths reported. Just behind motor vehicle crashes are accidental falls, which claimed the lives of just over 30,000 people according to the 2013 report.

Motor vehicle deaths are the most common cause of death from unintentional injury
The CDC report that in its most recent report (from 2013) motor vehicle accidents were the most common cause of deaths in the unintentional injuries category.

Causes of Motor Vehicle Accidents

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), some of the most common causes of vehicle accidents are:

  • Distracted driving
  • Driver fatigue
  • Drunk driving
  • Speeding
  • Aggressive driving
  • Weather

Aside from weather-related accidents, which could be managed to some extent in many cases by using better judgment about whether and how to drive in poor weather conditions, all of the causes of accidents listed above could be mitigated if there were fewer who felt like a text message was important enough that it had to be sent while operating a car, or whose need for the thrill of speed or lack of planning inspired them to go faster than necessary, or who decided to take one more drink before heading out from the bar.

Until society’s innovators come up with a safety-focused product that saves us all from our own negligence or until society miraculously starts to take seriously each of our responsibilities to pay attention to our driving habits, we can expect that 30,000+ people in the United States will lose their lives each year to accidents that could have been avoided.