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Recommendation on the risk of wearing rings and wedding bands

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THE CONSUMER SAFETY COMMISSION

 

HAVING REGARD TO the Consumer Code and specifically Articles L. 224-1, L. 224-4, R. 224 – 4 and R. 224-7 to R. 224-12
 
HAVING REGARD TO referral no. 05-005 initiated proprio motu

 

 
WHEREAS:

 

I.       The Referral

 

In December 2004, French and foreign hand surgery specialists met in Paris for the Fortieth Congress of the Société Française de la chirurgie de la main (French society of hand surgery). They underscored that hand traumas (in 2002[1] an estimated 1,400,0000 per year, including 620,000 cases of severe trauma) now occur in daily life twice as often as they do at work. The physicians specifically warned the public of the potential hazard of wearing closed rings and wedding bands, which are major causes of irreversible hand trauma due to avulsion or tearing of the soft tissue and which cause the partial or total loss of a finger in half the cases.
When the Consumer Safety Commission was informed of the situation by an article published in Le quotidien du médecin, it decided to initiate a referral procedure proprio motu on the issue of the potential hazard of wearing rings and wedding bands, at its plenary session of 20 January 2005.

 

II.    Risk Analysis

 

II.1.              Accidentology

 

It is hard to know the number and causes of hand and wrist accidents occurring in France per year because there are numerous sources that sometimes provide very different data. The EPAC[2] system only records patients that have transited through general emergency departments or who have undergone minor surgery for benign injuries. Therefore, EPAC figures have to be completed with data from specialised networks. Actually, when a severe trauma occurs, the emergency services send the hand accident victims directly to the hand emergency centre closest to the place of accident (hand clinic, SOS mains [SOS hands]), which draw up their own statistics through the FESUM (European Federation of emergency services) network.
Thus, the EPAC system only lists 42 accidents caused by wearing rings and wedding bands from 1999 to 2003 (e.g., about 8 per year) whereas for FESUM wearing rings and wedding bands is the cause of about one amputation per day, viz., 350 accidents per year. According to this source, this practice accounts for 90% of finger avulsion cases that are treated in hospital departments and 13 to 15% of digit amputations per year.[3]
The figures concur with the numbers provided by specialists worldwide who since the first medical works on the subject (1952) have agreed on an average ratio of 300 cases per year for a population of 60 million[4] in industrialised countries.
 
On the other hand, most hand accidents now occur in the home[5] (62%, e.g. roughly 870,000) and account for 41% of reported daily life accidents, a rising trend with increased free time and leisure activities. On the other hand, thanks to progress in making machines safer and to numerous prevention campaigns, at the workplace the number of hand accidents has sharply dropped but has remained steady for several years (about 530,000 accidents per year). They are still the leading cause of industrial accidents (27%).

 

II.2.              Accident Circumstances and Victim Profiles

 

Today most industrial accidents occur while handling portable tools (73% of the cases) and mainly due to operator or third party (67%) not paying attention, and not due to any technical failures (2%). The accidents happen foremost to young men (average age, 31), recently hired staff or temps or poorly trained staff working at high-speed work rates.
In daily life, taking every accident cause or degree of severity into account, hand accident circumstances are extremely varied. Accidents due to wearing rings and wedding bands seldom occur in “high-risk” situations (handling tools or cutting machines, violent sports, and so on) but on the contrary during routine situations of home life (doing housework, closing a car door, falling in the street, getting caught on fencing, falling from a stool, and so on). There are twice as many male victims as female victims.

 

More than half of the benign accidents from 1999 and 2003 listed in the EPAC database[6] (including 25% of victims are young children) are the kind where “the ring gets stuck on the finger”. They occur during game and leisure activities, one-third occur when ring gets snagged on a nail, fencing, doors and moving doors, and less than 2% during sports or DIY activities.

 

 

II.3.              The Clinical Consequences

 

Injuries to fingers caused by wearing rings and wedding bands (also called “ring fingers”) are among the most severe hand accidents and are the hardest to treat. Actually, a finger sheared by a sharp object causes local vascular lesions that can be repaired by a mere suture; success rate is at roughly 70%. On the other hand, ring traction on a finger causes tissue avulsion. Nerves, vessels, tendons and the osteoarticular system do not have the same tear level, leading to partial or total “degloving” of the finger depending on what the ring is made of, how it fits the finger, the degree of violence and angle of the movement.

 

 

Two hand surgeons have specifically studied the phenomenon and attempted to measure the maximum resistance threshold of ring fingers. The analysis of their observations relies on a classification of injuries commonly used by specialists:[7]
–          Class I: soft tissue wound; no rupture of vessels, nerves, tendons or joints
–          Class II A: skin wound and bilateral rupture of vessels
–          Class II B: soft tissue, vessel injury with partial rupture of nerves, tendons and joints
–          Class III: complete degloving of soft tissue surrounding joints
–          Class IV: complete ring avulsion

 

 

The first 1998 study conducted under Dr. David M. Kupfer, Department of Plastic and Orthopaedic Surgery, University of San Diego in California,[8] involved dropping a 30-pound weight attached to a ring bearing finger hanging from a hook, from a 9-inch height (see figure).
Results showed that in more than 90% of cases, the injuries caused by rings and wedding bands are Class II (29%) and Class IV (61%). On the tested sample (41 fingers), Class I injuries (10%) occurred at less than 80 N[9] and the first ring avulsions at 111 N. Maximum finger resistance is 346 N with average resistance at 154 N.  Film records also show that the skin is the finger’s strongest part. Once the skin tears, the remaining finger degloves or quickly avulses. Accordingly, although thin and narrow or tight rings are less resistant to traction and cause the skin to shear under traction, they are more dangerous than wide, thick rings.
The other 2000 study conducted by Dr. Thierry Dubert, a hand surgeon working with the Biomechanical Laboratory at the Ecole nationale supérieure des arts et métiers de Paris in 1999[10] produced comparable results[11] and analysed two types of traction, i.e.,
–          Slow speed traction[12] – no injury occurred at under a traction of 260 N, 14% of (Class II and III) injuries occurred at 260 to 350 N and 86% of (Class IV) injuries happened at more powerful tractions. For Dr. Dubert, who was heard by the Commission, the threshold of test conditions may be raised to 500 N without any risk of serious injury to healthy fingers.
–          Fast speed traction – when a weight attached to the ring is dropped from a 50-centimetre height, no injury occurs when weight is under 5 kilograms. However, at more than 10 kilograms, there is complete ring finger avulsion
Compared to these findings, the resistance of standard wedding bands (3-millimetre wide ring), regardless of alloy, is such that they will not open even when traction is 1,000 N.
The surgical replantation of a digit avulsion is only possible if the injured tissue is kept in the proper cold and hygiene conditions and if the patient’s overall condition so allows. Except for the thumb, replantation surgery is not systematic. Actually, the technical difficulty is high because it requires long vascular bypasses from healthy zones and sometimes on vessels with a less than one-millimetre diameter. There is a high risk of thrombosis and the survival rate of a replanted finger does not exceed 57%.[13]
A study presented at the December 2004 Hand Surgery Conference in Paris[14] reported on the follow-up of 33 patients that from 1989 to 2004 received care for “ring finger avulsion” that was caused by snagging the ring on a fixed object (fencing, door) in most cases. The table below summarises the study findings.

 

Type of injury
Class I
Classes IIA & IIB
Class III
Class IV
Number
2
5
10
16
Percentage
6%
15%
30%
49%
Microsurgery operations
None
Unreleased
9 vascular repair operations
11 replantations
Success rate
NA
Unreleased
100%
45.5%
After-effects
85% hypersensitivity to cold – 49% mobility – PPD for 50% of the patients
100% hypersensitivity to cold – 50% of movement pain –81% recovered strength – 26% mobility – PPD for 100% of the patients

 

Therefore, one-third of patients in the sample lost their finger for good; a successful replantation was performed on five patients, and 90% of the patients showed major functional after-effects. Actually when the tendons are injured or if the finger avulses at its base, it remains comparatively stiff after surgery also causing a loss of strength and mobility of the other fingers. That is why for manual workers specifically surgeons must sometimes arbitrate between aesthetic harm and functional capabilities. In this respect, the fingers do not all have the same functional value. The ring finger is considered as a “minor” finger that only serves to lock the grip. The index, middle finger and chiefly the thumb are essential. The loss of a thumb is an absolute indication for digit replantation even by using another finger or a toe (hetero-replantation).
It should be pointed out that hand injuries occurring during activities when victims do not have the impression of being at risk are psychologically traumatising especially since they leave extensive aesthetic damage aside from functional after-effects.

 

III. The Ring and Wedding Band Market

 

In the jewellery industry, production and distribution conditions have radically changed over the past years, especially with the use of digital technologies, the growth of imports and retailing through franchise networks or super-stores. However, two markets can still be distinguished.

 

III.1.                 Precious Jewellery & Haute Joaillerie

 

The first rings are said to have appeared during the Bronze Age. Early on, rings like circles were endowed with a symbolic meaning or a magical power. During Antiquity, depending on its value, a ring was a sign of social standing or group membership. During the Middle-Ages, it symbolised temporal or spiritual authority, bore coat of arms and became a seal. During the Renaissance, rings were enhanced and became finery; they were worn on several fingers, were bejewelled with stones and pearls, and were engraved.
Today, precious jewellery and haute joallerie encompass all the watches, jewellery and accessories made in precious metals guaranteed by a legal certificate (two-thirds gold, silver, platinum and gold plate), precious gems and pearls. Four million gold rings (23% of gold jewellery) are sold every year. They are valuable objects (average selling price is €299.00) and have kept a strong power symbolising commitment (engagement rings) or membership (coat of arms on signet rings) and are handed down from one generation to the next.
The wedding band has a special meaning. Worn on the fourth finger of the left hand,[15] it symbolises eternity, fidelity and the constant love of the couple whose commitment the ring embodies. Accordingly, the ring is made to be worn at all times.[16] The custom became widespread during the Sixteenth Century. Nowadays, the ring models (after extreme simplification during the mid Nineteenth Century with the development of “plain bands” and “decorated bands” are again diversifying. Sales are also broken down between plain bands, two-gold and bejewelled bands. Ninety percent of the wedding bands are mass-produced and roughly 500,000 pieces are sold per year.

 

III.2.                     Fashion Jewellery

 

The fashion jewellery market includes a range of products in different shapes and materials. Fashion rings accounting for a mere 10% of sales are in semi-precious metals, tin alloys, aluminium or brass. Jewellery in natural (wood, shell, leather, plant fibres, semiprecious stones) or synthetic (glass, paste, fabric, resins, nylon threads) can also be found.
 
Aside from creative designers’ work that may be quite expensive (€100.00 on average) and that are sold by professionals belonging to BOCI,[17]a substantial share of the output of often imported fashion jewellery (engraved silver rings, embossed signet rings, thumb rings and articulated rings) is marketed at inexpensive prices in independent boutiques or open-air marketswhere they are available to young male and female customers.
For the BOCI representative, who was heard by the Commission, fashion rings are not as much of a hazard to consumers as precious jewellery rings and wedding bands. Indeed,
–          Unlike gold jewellery, fashion jewellery seldom has any symbolic value. It is often purchased for oneself, often “on a whim”, rather than bought as a gift. It is an outfit accessory that often follows fashion trends in terms of colours, shapes and materials and is not made to be worn all the time during routine activities or over a long period of time
–          Basic ring materials are often tin alloys whose tensile strength is the lowest of all alloys used for jewellery (see Appendix no. 1§ II)

–          Because of economic profitability, most fashion rings are manufactured on a small scale, in a one-size-fits-all open ring that widens under violent traction and so do not present any great risk to wearer.

 

III.3.                     Regulations and Standards

 

III.3.1.    The Manufacture of Rings and Wedding Bands

 

For the purpose of protecting the freedom of its creative designers, the profession has always been reluctant to adopt regulatory and normative documents framing jewellery manufacture. The extant regulations and standards mainly concern the quality of the marketed products and consumer protection against fraudulent transactions:
–          Decree no. 84-693 of 16 July 1984 on the guarantee certificate of the materials and pieces in platinum, gold or silver and the legislation on stamping and the authorities’ control of the said obligations.
–          The standard NF EN 28654 of August 1993, “colours of gold alloys – definition, colour range and designation” and all the standards on the precious metal content (gold, silver, platinum, palladium) of certain alloys used in jewellery.
–          The standard NF EN 28653 of June 1993, “Jewellery – ring sizes – definition – measuring and designations”
Two texts specifically address the safety of jewellery pieces in terms of wearer’s risk of allergy to certain component:.
–          The Order of 18 July 2000[18] that limits the use of nickel and its compounds in pieces of jewellery and clothing that are in direct contact with the skin, to prevent allergic reactions.
–          The standard NF EN 1810 of October 1998 completing Directive 97/24/EC on the control of the nickel content in certain jewellery
For other risks and particularly the hazards incurred by the type of materials,[19] their tensile strength and shape, rings and wedding bands are directly ruled by General Product Safety Directive 2001/95/EC and Article L. 221-1 of the Consumer Code that instructs that,
“Products and services must, under normal conditions of use or under other circumstances that may reasonably be foreseen by the professional, offer the safety that can legitimately be expected and must not be a danger to public health.”  

 

III.3.2.    Wearing Rings and Wedding Bands

 

The dangerousness of wearing rings and wedding bands in certain high risk situations is well identified and the competent authorities have taken several measures to ban wearing rings or to inform users. As for instance,
–          The Labour Code establishes the principle of employers implementing workplace accident prevention (article L. 230-1 and L. 230-2). Under this framework, industrial facilities or vocational high schools have rules that forbid wearing rings and bands in workshops, laboratories or playgrounds.
–          In education, pursuant to the powers of organisation conferred by amended decrees no. 90-788 of 6 September 1990 and no. 85-924 of 30 August 1985[20] principals of local public primary and secondary schools have forbidden wearing jewellery, body studs, rings and bands during school activities.
 
–          In organised sports, certain federations expressly forbid their members from wearing jewellery, often in compliance with international regulations (French federation of basketball, football and judo), others are not as specific and forbid wearing any equipment that might injure the players (volleyball) or entrust the control of the measures to referees and coaches (wrestling and rugby). However, others do not raise the issue at all as the practice of the sport per se seems incompatible with wearing any finger rings.

 

IV.  Making Rings and Wedding Bands Safe

 

IV.1.                     Fashion Jewellery & Haute Joaillerie

 

After the BOCI representative presented the arguments on the safety of fashion rings and as no traction tests are available (except for gold jewellery), the case rapporteur deemed it necessary to check the tensile strength of fashion rings in different shapes and materials and to run tests similar to those conducted by Dr. Kupfer and Dubert (see II-3). The tests were entrusted to the Laboratoire National de Métrologie et d’Essais (LNE, national metrology and test laboratory).
First, product purchase showed that although designer rings or leading brand-name rings are open most of the time because only very few are on the market, the same is not true for numerous other (brand name or other) models sold in shops, at open-air markets, in super-stores or on the Internet.
A dozen open and closed, models in various alloys, stone, Plexiglas, and wood, with and without stones were selected.
      Slow traction tests of tensile strength (see appendix no. 2-I)

 

 

The purpose of the test was to measure ring fracture threshold by applying vertical traction at a speed of 5 millimetres per minute to the rings. As tensile strength depends on the geometry of the piece of jewellery, the tests were conducted along the axis of maximum ring strength, liable to cause the greatest damage to a finger. Maximum required force to fracture a band was recorded at a value of up to 999 N, a unit of force far exceeding digit resistance.
Three categories of rings were distinguished, e.g., open models that guarantee the band will open before finger vulnerability threshold is reached, models whose design includes one or two weak points (the insertion point of stones for bejewelled rings) or models in low strength materials (wood and resin), and closed rings that, regardless of alloy, have a very high fracture threshold.

 

      Fast traction tests of tensile strength (see Appendix no. 2-II)
The purpose of the test was to identify the fracture threshold of rings by applying a vertical tensile strength. A 10-kilogram mass was dropped from a 50-centimeter height. The ring was tested along the axis of maximum strength identified during the earlier test.
For classification, the different models (except for the silver signet ring, no. 8) were found to be in the same dangerousness category as during slow speed tests. Open rings are still the safest. Rings with stones, in stone, wood or silver, break but the violence of shock and the fracture angle may cause damages that the test was unable to assess. Closed steel, gold plate and aluminium rings do not break when subjected to traction forces and, therefore, may cause serious finger injuries.
At fast speed, the alloy composition of the ring is a determining factor. Based on the hardness indexes provided by CETEHOR[21] (see Appendix no. 1-I), rings in Index 1 and 2 alloys (silver, tin, and so on) are well below the fracture threshold likely to cause body harm. However the steel and gold plate commonly used for fashion jewellery exceed the dangerousness threshold (Indexes 3 and 4).[22] However, results may change according to jewellery shape and finger fit.

In view of the tests, it appears that open rings and bands provide the highest level of safety whether traction speed is fast or slow. Setting stones or choosing low-strength materials limit the risk of serious injuries. Aside from very few exceptions, closed bands, and especially those in high resistance alloys, aluminium or steel, are as dangerous as rings made in so-called precious alloys.

 

IV.2.                Hand Surgeons’ Proposals

 

Hand surgeons are very aware of the risk. A number of them working with jewellery professionals have put forward several solutions to make closed rings and wedding bands safe. Some examples follow.

 

 

–          In 1963, Dr. Bevin and Dr. Chase[23] suggested the complete incision of the ring. However the procedure irreversibly damages the piece and divests wedding bands of their symbolism.

 

 

–          In 1969, Dr. Bianchi and in 1996, Dr. VARELA[24] suggested weakening the structure of the ring by making two partial incisions on its inner side. However, the procedure has never undergone any biomechanical tests.
 
–          In 2000, Dr. Dubert working with the Biomechanical Laboratory at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts et Métiers tested two procedures to make rings safe, designed by a leading Parisian jeweller.
o        An incision is made in the ring, a tiny part is hollowed out and then it is welded peripherally
o        Ring coring, the cored out substance is replaced in the hollow, two or three points are laser welded and polished. Coring size depends on alloy, ring width and thickness so that ring fractures at traction of less than 350 N.
Once properly calibrated, only the second of the two procedures effectively guarantees that ring will open before reaching the serious injury threshold, every time.
Despite a ring-maker’s attempt to market the procedure, the product was withdrawn from the market. Actually, for the procedure to be efficient, it supposes a coring calibration adjusted to each ring model (destructive tests paid for by manufacturer). Therefore, the procedure was only done for a few basic models, making its market promotion tricky compared to other sometimes more expensive but “unsafe” models. Furthermore, consumers specifically exposed to all sorts of shocks, pressures and vibrations had chosen this type of ring that, with use, sometimes did exactly what it was supposed to do, i.e., break under excessive force. Customers saw ring fragility as a defect and expected seller to repair the object, an onerous responsibility for retailers.

 

IV.3.                     CETEHOR Recommendation

 

The watch-making technical centre, which was heard by the Commission, provided several technical details on the strength of the precious metals used to manufacture rings and wedding bands. The bands are made in alloys whose pure gold, silver or platinum content must comply with legal assays in France (750 thousandths for gold and 800 to 925 thousandths for silver). The choice and proportion of additional metals (copper, iridium, cobalt, ruthenium, and so on) required for good shock-resistance and tensile strength of the jewellery are linked to product aesthetics because the metals often determine colour and clarity. However, in all cases, their resistance exceeds finger resistance.
Mr. P., CETEHOR Technical Director, confirmed that in theory there are solutions to make rings and wedding bands safe without altering beauty and comfort, i.e.,
–          Use an alloy with a high copper or tin content in part of the tube when casting the “tubes” used to manufacture wedding bands
–          Saw the band or ring crosswise and then weld with soft metal; however, the aesthetic result is not always guaranteed
–          Partially saw inner side of bands – Two cutting operations are needed to prevent the ring from separating and causing an injury (see Dr. Bianchi and Dr. Varela’s proposal). This option is the most rational and easiest operation to carry out, even on wedding bands that have already been sold. It involves a case by case study of the thickness of the residual section that should be left, depending on ring shape and alloy
–          Remove material, engravings on inner side of bands so as to lessen thickness invisibly
–          Design closing and locking systems for open rings, components that would be an integral part decorating the work.
On the other hand, implementing the solutions on an industrial and commercial scale seems harder to do. In every case, the operations would raise the price of the jewellery and involve seriously addressing marketing issues so that retailers agree to sell the rings.

 

V.     High Risk Behaviour Prevention

 

Because of the variety of high-risk situations and the fact that hands are fairly well exposed to all sorts of accidents (burns, cuts, crushing, avulsion, and so on), hand accident prevention is an especially complex issue. Indeed, the few preventive actions that have been implemented focus but little on the potential danger of wearing rings and wedding bands.

 

 

The most explicit documents on the risk deal with industrial action. The Institut National de Recherche et de Sécurité pour la prévention des accidents du travail et des maladies professionnelles (French national institute competent in the area of occupational risk prevention protecting workers’ health and safety and preventing occupational accidents or diseases) put out the poster shown on the right but it was not widely circulated.
In vocational education, accident prevention is part of the curricula for the CAP, BEP (different vocational and professional aptitude degrees) and vocational baccalaureates but there is no specific chapter on hand accidents and so obviously nothing on the potential hazard of wearing rings.
Unlike the workplace where the focus is on the individual approach targeting a particular organ (“protect your back, your ears”), national campaigns for the prevention of daily life accidents are usually deployed from the standpoint of the environment and public endangerment (risk of children getting burned, of the elderly falling) or from the standpoint of hazards (drowning, fire, mountain sports, sliding sports, and so on). As a result, none of them ever focus on the specific topic of hand protection.
On this issue, only spot actions involving local public and private partners addressed to consumers and businesses were rolled out in 2003, specifically by Association bourguignonne de la main (Burgundy hand association; see Appendix no. 3) and in 2004 by FESUM,[25] which published a informative brochure (see appendix no. 4) jointly with the Fédération française des sociétés d’assurance (French federation of insurance companies). The potential hazard of rings is addressed among other subjects. However, the focus is on dangerous activities and machines.
DIY – get the information you need and read the instructions before using a tool that you are unfamiliar with. You can’t learn how to become a plumber or a carpenter overnight. Don’t wear wedding bands, rings, bracelets or watches. They work like traps when using ropes, rotating machines or drive- feed machines. A wedding band or a ring that gets snagged may rip off your finger! Cut the ring in two before it’s too late!”
 
 

ON THE BASIS OF THIS DATA,

 
Whereas accidents from wearing rings and bands, especially during daily life activities, are very serious;

 

Whereas succinct data on the number of hand accidents per year in France does not exist;

 

Whereas the activities during which this type of accident may occur, including activities that are not considered dangerous, are very diverse;

 

Whereas there is no difference in established dangerousness between precious jewellery and fashion jewellery if the pieces are closed metallic rings;

 

Whereas, although they need to be fine-tuned, techniques, which do not overmuch alter the beauty and symbolic meaning of some rings, are available that can make rings safe;

 

Whereas the prevention of risks inherent to wearing rings and wedding bands at the workplace, school and during the practice of sports and leisure activities needs to be strengthened;

 

Whereas consumers must be informed of the potential hazard of wearing rings and wedding bands during daily life activities;
 

The Commission makes the following recommendations

 

 To the public authorities

 
–          Put together a succinct national collection of hand accidents listed by the different victim care facilities; the collection should be based on streamlined indicators so that different types of accidents and their circumstances can be quantified and qualified;
–          In education, recommend that school principals should:
o        In primary and secondary schools and vocational establishments, include the banning of wearing finger jewellery during all school or school-related activities in the rules of their establishment;
o        At all levels, build students’ awareness of hand accident prevention and specifically the accidents from wearing rings and bands at the future workplace as well as during daily activities

 

To sports federations and all the public and private stakeholders offering sports activities and organising sporting events

 

–          Expressly forbid wearing rings and wedding bands when practising the sports activities that they are en charge of supervising and organising.

 

To the professionals in the precious jewellery and fashion jewellery industry

 

–          Start thinking about how to integrate the prevention of risks inherent to wearing rings and wedding bands in the design and manufacture of their products, by drawing on the CETEHOR skills and expertise, among others;
–          Inform consumers of the potential hazard of wearing finger jewellery and offer ring and wedding band wearers easy and fast services to make the rings safe as part of usual business operations, such as cutting, engraving, and so on, that are handled in the shop.

 

To the manufacturers, retailers and renters of DIY, gardening and sports equipment

 

–      Inform consumers of the potential hazard of wearing rings and wedding bands in their instructions or rental contracts, on posters or useful tips for consumers.

To the public and private organisations dedicated to accident prevention

 

At the workplace:
–          Sensitise entrepreneurs and employees, especially in the building, logistics and transportation industries of the potential hazard of wearing rings and wedding bands, not only when using fixed or portable machines generally considered as dangerous, but also during heavy object handling operations;
During daily life:
–          Study the possibility of integrating information on hand accidents and the risks inherent to wearing rings and weddings bands in the national campaign for the prevention of daily life accidents;
–          In the long term, roll out a special, nationwide information and prevention campaign about hand accidents during daily life activities, with a focus on their traumatic nature, on injury-causing factors, specifically wearing rings and weddings bands, and on the range of situations where this type of accident may happen.

 

To Consumers

 

–            Remove any rings or wedding bands during activities where the risk of injury is especially high viz., DIY activities, gardening, handling heavy objects and individual or collective sports activities;
–            Advise against wearing rings on the fingers that are critical for hand grip, e.g., thumb, index and middle finger;
 
–        Regardless of the circumstances, forbid children and adolescents to wear closed rings and inform them of the potential danger;
–        Have their rings and bands adjusted according the their changing morphology so the jewellery can be easily taken off if needed.

 

ADOPTED AT THE SESSION HELD ON 15 DECEMBER 2005

ON THE BASIS OF THE REPORT BY MRS. LYDIA LE GALLO

 

Assisted by Mrs. Muriel GRISOT, Commission Technical Advisors, in accordance with Article R.224-4 of the Consumer Code


 
Appendix no. 1
 
 
Hardness and durability of different alloys and metals (source CETEHOR)

I- Hardness

 

Name of the alloy
Components
Hardness scale (from softest to hardest metal)
Gold Or (75%) silver (12.5%) copper (12.5%)
Hardness can double depending on the proportions of gold and copper
Index 2 to 3
White gold Gold nickel palladium Index 3
Sliver Silver (925 mill.) copper (75 mill.) Index 2
Platinum Platinum (950 mill.) copper iridium, ruthenium or cobalt (50 mill.) Index 3
Stainless steel Iron chromium nickel molybdenum Index 4
Tin Tin lead bismuth Index 1

 

II – Strength

 

The fracture strength values of jewellery are variable depending on the state of the product (annealed or cold drawn)[26] and the type of alloy. The fracture strength values for different metals in their most tempered[27] state can be found in the table below. In some cases, metalwork may double the said values, which are expressed in MPa or N/mm².[28]

 

Metal or alloy
Fracture strength value
Tin alloy
60
Gold
125
Platinum
135
Silver
150
Silver alloy
250
Zinc alloy
300
Platinum alloy
330
Gold alloy (750 mil.)
350
Stainless steel
500

 

 

Appendix no. 2


RESULTS OF THE LOW AND FAST SPEED TRACTION TESTS OF TENSILE STRENGTH

 

I – Slow speed

 

 

II – Fast speed

 

 

Appendix no. 3


ABM Article

Associations
56,000 Hand Accidents in Burgundy Every Year
The Association bourguignonne de la main (the Burgundy hand association)
Working to Build Consumers and Physicians’ Awareness
Severed fingers or tendons, second-degree burns, joint destruction – Every year 56,000 hand accidents occur in Burgundy. “This is a high number,” commented the Association bourguignonne de la main (ABM Main) during the launch of an awareness building campaign for consumers and general practitioners. Most accidents occur at the workplace. The Caisse régionale d’assurance maladie (regional health fund) reported 70 hand accidents for 1,000 employees in the Yonne département in 2001. This was the highest rate in all Burgundy (48.9 in Côte-d’Or, 49.1 in the Nièvre, and 52.6 in Saône-et-Loire). Initially established by medical professions in 2002, ABM Main received a 62,127-euro grant from the Union régionale d’assurance maladie (URCAM, regional health fund union) to produce 50,000 copies of a consumer information brochure and two thousand desk pads for physicians, and to open a website (www.abm-main.asso.fr)
Anticipate Dangerous Gestures
“It’s so obvious that our hands are precious that we don’t pay attention to the dangers in many of our daily actions,” commented the Association authorities. And the dangers abound. At home – not only for children – and at the workplace, despite the growing safety systems and measures in workshops. ABM’s campaign wants to disseminate a reflex that would anticipate dangerous gestures. For instance, when at home, taking precautions when handling hot objects and when at work warning colleagues when a mechanic is working on a broken machine.
Of course, today surgery can repair many severed fingers. But one should remember that this type of accident “may have serious consequences on our psyche viz., the loss of employment, a break-up, or depression,” recalled the medical community.


Appendix no. 4

FESUM Brochure

 

 

 

[1]Report entitled Huit jours d’urgences mains du 3 au 9 juin 2002 (eight days of emergency hand care from 3 to 9 June 2002, 2002); Editions scientifiques et médicales Elsevier SAS
[2] Permanent Investigation on Daily Life Accidents managed by INVS (Institut de Veille Sanitaire, sanitary watch institute) that collects accidentology data from the emergency departments of nine hospitals in France.
[3] Source: SOS-mains BOUCICAUT, 1996
[4] Journal of hand Surgery; 2000; p. 418-421
[5] Source: 1987-1994 CNAMTS (French national health service) statistical survey
[6] 42 accidents from 1999 to 2003 but only 10% cases requiring hospitalisation
[7] The classification draws on Dr. Urbaniak’s in the Journal of Hand Surgery; 1981; 6: 25-30
[8] The Journal of Hand Surgery; 1999: 26-05
[9] N = Newton, the unit of the force required to give a mass of one kilogram an acceleration of one meter per second.
[10] Journal of Hand Surgery; 2000; 25B5: 418-421.
[11] Due to the size and quality of the samples, the conclusions are not very reliable statistically.
[12] On a traction bench moving at a speed of 0.5 metres per second
[13] Another source (Morrison 1977) reports a 20% success rate for complete avulsion compared to 80% for complete severing and a 65% success rate compared to 88% for incomplete injuries.
[14] Gaston, Dautel, et al; Jeanne d’Arc Hospital, Dommartin-Lès-Toul, France
[15] Common belief has it that a nerve connects this finger directly to the heart but the belief is contradicted in some eastern countries where wedding rings are worn on the right hand.
[16] Reportedly, a wedding ring is worn an average of 40 years
[17] BOCI: Trade association of fashion jewellery, precious metal jewellery, silversmith decorative gift objects, subcontractors & suppliers
[18] Transposition of Directive 97/24/EC of 22 July 1994 amending Annex of Directive 76/769/EEC on dangerous metals
[19] Except for the substances deemed dangerous by Directive 76/769/CEE of 27 July 1976
[20] Completed by circulars no. 91-124 of 6 June 1991 and no. 2000-106 of 11 July 2000, among others
[21] CEntre TEchnique de l’HORlogerie, the watch-making technical centre
[22] For precious metals, gold (unless its copper content is high) and platinum also have indexes of 3 and of 4.
[23] Journal of Hand Surgery; 2000; 25B5: 418-421.
[24] Idem
[25] Fédération européenne des services d’urgences mains, European Federation of Hand Emergency Services
[26] Cold drawing and annealing: treatments to provide metals with optimum plasticity
[27] Tempered metal through cold drawing or annealing, depending on its scheduled use
[28]1MPa = 10 bars