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Samson engages employees to improve hand safety

A partnership leads to hand protection

Five years ago, cuts and lacerations were the most common injury reported by employees at Samson. In 2012, Samson chose to expand its partnership with DSM in an effort to improve workplace hand safety by investing in cut-resistant gloves made with Dyneema® fiber.

Risky business for cuts and lacerations

Samson is a worldwide leader in the development and manufacturing of high-performance ropes, including ropes made with Dyneema® technology from DSM. With facilities in Louisiana and Washington, Samson has approximately 300 employees, two-thirds of which are in manufacturing roles.

For employees at Samson, regular handling of scissors and knives—some of which have 12-inch blades—creates an ongoing threat of hand injuries. Workers may switch back and forth between scissors and knives numerous times in a matter of minutes, making them more susceptible to cuts and lacerations. Routine packaging and unpackaging can also result in cuts ranging from negligible nuisances to serious slashes. 

In 2012, cuts and lacerations were the most common injury among Samson employees.

Hands-off policy on PPE takes a toll

Prior to 2012, Samson used nitrile gloves to help employees keep their hands clean. These gloves weren’t required, and many employees chose not to wear them at all. As a result, cuts and lacerations became the most common injury among Samson employees, and company leaders decided to take action.

Near the end of the year, Mark Swiackey, Current COO and then VP of Manufacturing, recommended that Samson implement a glove program at the beginning of 2013. DSM gave Samson leaders ideas on glove manufacturers to consider working with.

Employees seek comfort first

After preliminary research, management at Samson worked with employees to choose the best cut-resistant gloves for the company. Employees were asked to try a number of different styles, materials and brands. Not surprisingly, comfort and fit were among top priorities. After considering a few competitors, the employees spoke loud and clear: Superior Gloves—made with Dyneema® fiber—were the favorite.

“Typically what happens is if the cost isn’t significantly different, and it’s what the employees want, then we go with what the employees want,” says Samson’s Director of Human Resources, Raquel Hansen.

Samson ultimately chose two different styles of cut-resistant gloves from Superior Gloves, both using Dyneema® fiber. Forty percent less dense than aramid fiber, these gloves are thinner and much lighter than competitor gloves while offering the same level of cut protection.

One vendor described gloves as “Dyneema-like.” If that’s the case, Samson was not interested. “We’re not getting something without knowing where it’s from and what it’s made of,” Hansen said.

Superior protection delivers results

The glove program was rolled out on the first work day in 2013, and Samson began seeing results almost immediately. On the second day of the program, one employee experienced a cut between his index and middle finger. The Dyneema® glove took most of the damage. With just one stitch in the small piece of webbing between his fingers, the employee came back to work the same day. Had he not been wearing the gloves, it could have been weeks, if not months of surgery and physical therapy.

Overall, cuts from handling packages diminished across the board since the start of the glove program. And some workers even said that Dyneema’s comfort and breathability kept their eczema from flaring up.

Samson’s biggest category of injury were cuts. Not anymore, unless employees aren’t wearing the gloves. The gloves dropped cuts down to zero.

DSM and Samson, Stronger Together

As a DSM customer since the 1990s, Samson is no stranger to the safety benefits of innovative Dyneema® fiber. The successful partnership between “The Strongest Name in Rope” and “The World’s Strongest Fiber” delivers innovative, high-quality solutions for customers around the world. With employees now wearing Dyneema® gloves, Samson can continue to deliver on safety excellence both inside its manufacturing facilities as well as out.