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Most site accidents can be avoided by maintaining constant awareness and vigilance, and the correct planning and preparation will do much to keep operators safer.


OUR KNEES There are a number of other basic precautions to be taken. One of the most important measures is to pay careful attention to the use of proper personal protective equipment. Protection for eyes, feet and hands are vital but probably the most important parts of the body to consider when fitting a floor is the knees.

Many technicians within the flooring industry, or in any occupation that involves spending any length of time kneeling, are seriously underestimating the amount of long-term damage they could be doing to their knees. Any harm done will have adverse effects, ultimately affecting their mobility and even future finances through being unable to work.

Our knees are complex. Often thought of as a simple hinge in our legs, knees in fact support the majority of our body weight. For workers who spend a great deal of time on floor level surfaces, or crawling in confined areas, the phrase, ‘Our knees are our feet!’ is appropriate. As a result, workplace injuries to knees are not uncommon.

It is said that one knee injury can be attributed to about 15 days absence from work. The knees are the largest joints in our body. Each is made up of the three main leg bones, the femur, tibia, and fibula and the knee cap or patella. Cartilage helps lubricate bone movement along with fluid-filled sacs called bursa, which cushion direct impacts to the knees. If the tendons and ligaments that hold the knee components together become weak or damaged, the bones can become misaligned, resulting in pain or injury.


STEPS However, there are many measures you can take to protect yourself or advise the people who work for you. Kneeling or squatting for extended periods places a lot of pressure on knee joints. Therefore, it is important to relieve that pressure by moving the joint through its full range of motion – bending,

stretching, and flexing the knee and leg at regular intervals. This activity helps the knee's shock-absorbing tissues to better absorb synovial fluid thus improving lubrication of the joint and reducing the risk of injury.

extremely destructive and damaging to tissue and can lead to impaired blood flow, pain, tissue breakdown and pressure sores.

Excess body weight is not surprisingly an added risk factor so maintaining a healthy weight is a good idea all round.

If it is at all practical, move and change postures frequently – static postures decrease blood and nutrient flow to the tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bursa.


“Many technicians within the

flooring industry are seriously

underestimating the amount of long-

term damage they could be doing to their knees.”

THAN CURE The key precaution to preventing knee and, often as a result, skeletal injury, is to choose the correct type of kneepad. A great deal of research has been made into the design and construction of this specialist item of PPE over the last few years, especially by companies such as Redbacks Cushioning Limited. The company has been very successfully selling their SATRA award- winning Redbacks non-foam/non-gel knee pads. Featuring soft and flexible TPE (Thermo Plastic Elastomer) leaf- spring set within a unique honeycomb matrix, this ‘Redbacks Cushioning Technology’ distributes body weight evenly, elevating the knees to relieve back pain and reduce pressure on knee, leg, ankle and foot joints, whilst minimising the risk of possible injury from sharp or penetrating objects. In effect, the kneepads auto-adjust to the user’s weight and thereby to the amount of force applied, meaning that each kneepad becomes individual to its own user.

Dirty clothing can result in skin infections for people who spend a lot of time on their knees so make sure that at least the knee areas of work trousers are kept as clean as possible. Constantly moving around on knees without the correct protection can cause friction which in turn can lead to skin abrasion from internal shear forces within the knee surface and therefore absorb dirt. These forces are

CEO of the company, Cliff Lockyer, says: “Based on the fact that there are currently over 104,000 annually registered knee operations by the NHS, 50% of which are accredited to occupational hazards, in 10 years’ time the total figure will exceed over a million people in the UK alone, many of whom will have damaged knees through inadequate protection whilst kneeling. In addition to the unnecessary pain and suffering, the self-employed risk losing their income through injury and the prospect of litigation will be a real threat to employers for not providing the best possible safety measures for their employees” FEATURE | 39

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