Ring This Up to Caution?

Oct. 9, 2008
A safety consultant writes us: “I have a client that's trying to convince all employees to stop wearing rings while working. Some employees are saying there are no facts and data to back up the ‘No Rings’ policy.” Nearly every machine guarding ...

A safety consultant writes us: “I have a client that's trying to convince all employees to stop wearing rings while working. Some employees are saying there are no facts and data to back up the ‘No Rings’ policy.”

Nearly every machine guarding standard or guideline warns against the use of jewelry when working near all manner of moving machine hazards. In OSHA’s publication, “Safeguarding Equipment and Protecting Employees from Amputations,” the agency urges employers to prohibit “employees from wearing loose clothing or jewelry and requiring the securing of long hair with nets or caps. Clothing, jewelry, long hair and even gloves can get entangled in moving machine parts.” Similarly, Texas’ Division of Workers’ Compensation warns: “Jewelry should not be worn within an arm’s length of rotating or operating machinery, tools or electrical switch areas.”

There is certainly no shortage of injuries to the fingers and hands in our society. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 1 million trips to emergency rooms occur annually as a result of traumatic hand injuries. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, approximately 111,000 injuries to fingers occur annually, about 9 percent of all nonfatal work injuries resulting in days away from work.

So, should those wedding, high school graduation and other rings come off when at work? Based on best practices and some rather gruesome anecdotes on a few message boards, the answer would appear to be yes. What has been your experience with “No Rings”?

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