I’m left handed. Am I safe?

Recently a New Zealand OHS discussion forum carried a request for people to participate in research to determine whether “handedness” – whether one was left- or right-handed – could be a contributory factor in being injured at work.

The survey period has closed. Robyn Parkin, the researcher, and SafetyAtWorkBlog agreed not to post about the research until now, as Robyn wanted to survey New Zealanders.  Robyn describes her research project as looking at

“…whether New Zealand companies consider handedness as a potential contributing factor for accidents, and if so, what size companies are more likely to consider this factor”

Robyn is concerned that the design of workplaces, workstations and plant may not have considered the way a left-handed person, for instance, may operate a machine, or whether the emergency stop can only be reached with one’s right hand.

Left-handedness exists in around 10% of the population and there are many OHS or community designs that accommodate the needs a similar small minority.  As with many other reseacrh projects, Robyn’s investigation into the potential role of handedness at work causes all of us to look at our own workplaces from a fresh perspective.  And that has got to be good.

Robyn is happy to discuss her research with others by email.

Kevin Jones

Categories design, OHS, research, risk, safety, UncategorizedTags , ,

3 thoughts on “I’m left handed. Am I safe?”

  1. Hi Marion,

    Your link is interesting. My research has shown so far that us lefties are over-represented in the extremes of intelligence – both extremely high (eg 20% of Mensa members are lefties) and the extremely low… so we might want to be a bit careful how we boast about this one!

    Re safety: yes, we\’re more at risk, but the biggest and most concerning thing so far is the access to emergency/critical stop buttons on machines seems to very strongly favour right-handers – so if a leftie gets caught it is harder or impossible to reach a critical stop.

    Also some fascinating links with size of company and who considers handedness as an accident root cause – more to come on this!

    Robyn

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