When asked for advice as to how to best protect oneself from accidents when cutting boxes or other materials, we advise to always keep your free hand out of the cut path. This also goes for any other parts of the body that may be in the path. Your free hand is first and foremost since you will likely be using it while cutting/opening boxes, etc.
Follow-through cuts and lacerations can happen with any type of cutter; safety cutters are not completely exempt from this type of accident. Some may be better than others, however, it is best to assume that ANY device will cut you regardless of its safeguards. Device failures can happen at any time and there are numerous accounts of this happening. One of our staff members experienced this very issue while using a smart self retracting safety cutter*. The resulting injury was a mild scratch but could have been much worse. They were cutting up a large Gaylord tote box for recycling. For those that don't know, these boxes are about 4' wide by 4' tall. While cutting off one of the top flaps and pulling the safety knife towards themselves the knife let loose and the blade nicked their side just under the cutting arm. The speed and movement of the knife was quick and the blade had not yet fully retracted when it struck the user. Now, if this was a standard utility knife, there would have been a significant injury to report. As it was, it was a close call and a very important lesson learned about safe cutting practices.
We now lay the Gaylord boxes down flat on a pallet when cutting them up for recycling. Lesson learned!
*A smart safety cutter offers an additional safety feature to aid in reduction of accidental cutting injuries, typically a self retracting safety cutter or knife that will automatically retract even while extending the blade. This feature cannot be overridden.