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Health & Safety Challenges for Left Handers

Updated: Jan 8


Approximately 10% of the population worldwide are left-handed, which means there are potentially 6.7 million left-handers in the UK alone. 13th August is International Left-handers Day, celebrating all things left handed. Whilst celebrating, it’s worth being mindful of health and safety implications that may come from left-handers in the workplace.


Do you know how many of your staff are left handed? This is a good place to start in ascertaining whether there are any risks or safety considerations to be aware of.


For left-handed people, the safety features designed for right-hand user protection are at best ineffective and at worst dangerous. Think for a moment about if you’ve ever seen a left handed person (or been that person yourself) trying to use right handed scissors and vice versa; it’s incredibly difficult to use equipment when it’s not designed for how your hands naturally operate.


Powered machinery and power tools can be particularly dangerous, causing thousands of injuries a year. See https://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/industry/manufacturing.pdf for details and statistics on injuries and fatalities surrounding power machinery in the manufacturing sector, which has led to a tightening of HSE regulations regarding machinery operation to ensure workers remain as safe as possible in the workplace.


Though safety measures are continually updating and are improving, there is a real danger when left-handed people use right-handed machinery. Manufacturers produce tools and machinery specifically tailored for right-handed people, as right handers make up 90% of the population. This means that safety buttons, screens, guards, as well as blade cutting direction, emergency stop buttons are generally positioned to suit right-handed users.


This prompts the question: what can you do to help keep left-handed people safe?


The first step should be to ascertain how many of your staff are left-handed and if the equipment they use is suitable for them to use safely and effectively.


This is a question often omitted when carrying out risk assessments and purchasing tools.

Employers should be investing in tools, machinery and equipment that is suitable and safe for left-handers to use.


The dangers to left-handed workers should be included in your safety risk assessments to ensure any risks are properly noted and evaluated. Changes in practice and process should then be implemented to make sure your left-handed workers are safe at work.


Check out other Blogs in our series:



Please contact Robinson Grace HR for further advice and support via clientservices@robinsongracehr.com or call us on 01793 311937 to see if we can help you.


The content of our blogs is intended for general information only and does not replace legal or other professional advice.


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