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I do… but not at work.

- February 10, 2014 by Guest Bloggers (View all posts by Guest)

One of my clients recently asked me this safety question:

Many people wear rings and barely notice they are on, especially wedding rings.  But, as a responsible employer, should I ask my employees to remove them? 

Great question!  Here are some things to consider.

Wedding bands are made out of many types of metal nowadays, most of which are much stronger and harder than gold.  For example, stainless steel rings are popular because they stay looking nice, require little maintenance, are inexpensive and keep their shape much better than traditional gold rings.  Titanium is also popular because it is lightweight, but is also much stronger than gold.  Ok, so what does that mean?  Consider these hypothetical scenarios:

  • Your employee, a great employee, is working hard and paying attention to his work.  His coworker calls over to him, he is slightly distracted and his hand slips into the machine.  His finger, a finger with a ring on it, is crushed and swells instantly.  His ring starts to act as a tourniquet and cannot be removed.  Now what?  How do you get the ring off?  Do you wait for the paramedics?   Do you have a tool to cut the metal?
  • Your company manufactures, distributes or uses chemicals daily.  Do your employees know if the chemicals they use will react with the metal in their rings?  Will it burn the skin?  What if an employee has an allergic reaction to a chemical he or she has come in contact with and his or her finger swells.  Again, the ring is a tourniquet.  Now what?
  • Your employees work around moving parts, moving machinery, presses, etc.  Ever consider what would happen if the ring were to get caught on the moving equipment and pull the employee in?  Or if the ring does come off of the employee’s finger and gets shattered and thrown like shrapnel across the area? 
  • And electricity!  Metal and electricity do NOT go together!

Establish clear rules in your company’s employee handbook about the removal of jewelry, to include wedding rings.  Establish clear reasons for the rule, providing accident examples and statistics.  Explain to employees who have concerns about removing their wedding rings in the workplace that your rules are there to keep them safe. When employees understand the immediate physical risks that could result if they do not comply, they may be more willing to accept the rules.

And finally, be an example.  If you are married, removing your own wedding rings while in the workplace will show your employees that you are not an exception to the rule.