How to the Canadian avoid cutting accidents at work

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) is governed by a tripartite council representing governments (federal, provincial and territorial), employers, and labour, which assists in delivering a trustworthy and complete occupational health and safety service, and ensures that the information CCOHS disseminates is unbiased.

The CCOHS provides inquiries service which covers an extensive range of topic areas in workplace health and safety, from hazards to diseases to ergonomics to workplace promotion. In which cutting accident is one of the topics they concern. 

Let us see how the Canadian avoid cutting accidents at work.

Why is there a concern when working near sharp blades or edges?

The most common concern when using sharp blades or edges is an injury, such as a cut (laceration, puncture) or an amputation.


Tools or equipment with sharp blades or edges can include:

• knives and other utensils

• box cutters, utility knives, safety cutters, etc. 

• scissors

• equipment with blades or moving parts, such as food processors, mixers, meat grinders, etc.

• glasses, dishes, etc., especially when broken or chipped

• food wrap container blades, cans that have been opened, etc.

• razor blades

How can this hazard be eliminated or the risk controlled?


Most reliable option is to eliminate the use of the blade. Assess if there is another way to cut the item, open the package, automate the process, or use a different tool. 

Next, assess if there is another way to reduce the need for using the blade (e.g., slicing, cutting or trimming). Is there a different type of blade or tool that will do the job safer (e.g., covered blades, fixed guards, non-exposed blades, spring backs, tape splitters, pliers, snips, etc.)?

If these options are not possible, the following steps may help to reduce the risk of injury. 


What do I need to know about the safe use of hand tools with sharp blades?


To prevent cuts:

• Use the right tool for the job. 

• Only use the tool only for the job it was designed for. For example, a knife should not be used as a pry bar, can opener, chisel, punch, awl, scraper, or screwdriver.

• Educate and train all staff in the safe use of any tool they may use. 

• Inspect the tool before use. 

• Make sure the blade is sharp. Dull blades require more force, increasing the chance of injury. 

• Carry one tool at a time, tip and blade pointed down at your side.

• Work in a well lit space so you can see what you are doing. 

• Cut on a stable surface. Use a cutting board and/or slip-resistant matting to prevent the item from sliding on the counter.

• Where possible, use a mechanical device to hold the item.

• Hold the tool with your stronger hand.

• Use protective clothing such as cut resistant or mesh gloves, especially for the holding hand. Safety glasses will protect the eyes if the blade shatters or breaks.



• Cut away from your body. Make sure no body parts are in the cutting path, or in the path the blade might take if it slips. 

• If the tool has a retractable blade, retract it immediately after use, and retract it fully. Similarly, close scissors or snips when not in use.

• Place the tool at the back of the counter when not in use, with the sharp edge away from you.

• Store tools appropriately. For example, store knives securely in a knife rack or drawer, with the handles facing the front. Or, create racks, slots, or boxes near the work space to store the tool.

• When cutting food, clean the knife immediately after use or place it in a container labelled “knives only” near the sink.

• Throw out broken, dull, or rusty blades by placing them in a puncture resistant container. 

• Do not use excessive pressure when cutting.

• Do not try to catch a falling tool. Quickly move out of the way, let it fall, and then pick it up.

• Do not engage in horseplay with a tool in your hand.

• Do not engage in discussions with your co-workers while you are using a sharp tool. Stop cutting if you need to look up or focus on something else. 

• Do not carry tools while carrying other objects.

• Do not carry an open tool in your pocket.

• Do not drop or leave a sharp tool in a place where it cannot be seen; for example, by placing other items on top of the tool, or by placing the tool in dish water.

• Do not pass or throw a tool to someone else. Place the tool or knife on the counter and let the other person pick it up. Tools like scissors can be passed in the closed position, handle first.