Safety First: How to Choose the Right Work Gloves

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Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) plays an important role in keeping you and your team safe at work. Work gloves are a crucial component of a PPE framework as they can offer protection from a wide range of risks.

Considering the fact that employees’ hands are the most used tools in the workplace, ensuring they are kept protected from on-the-job hazards is extremely important to maintain employee productivity. Employees’ hands may be at risk from a range of dangers, including chemicals, abrasive surfaces, splinters, broken glass, wounds, and scratches, depending on the workplace.

According to research, hand injuries make up close to 25% of all lost-time industrial accidents, with 70% of those accidents occurring when an employee was not wearing safety gloves and the other 30% occurring when they were wearing the incorrect kind of work gloves. Correctly fitting safety gloves made of the right materials will protect employees from almost any kind of risk. Sadly, employees frequently have a very poor understanding of how to choose the right glove based on the risks they face. 

What Type of Work Gloves to Choose?

You can find a wide variety of work gloves on the market these days, each with a specific function. To help you find the type that best suits your needs, we’ll go over several popular types below.

Fabric Gloves

Fabric gloves create a thin, permeable barrier between the wearer’s skin and the objects they are touching. They help avoid minor abrasions and scratches but are not effective at protecting against hot surfaces, jagged objects, open flames, and puncture dangers. These gloves are also worn sometimes as liners inside bigger safety gloves. 

Coated Fabric Gloves 

When compared to fabric gloves, these all-purpose gloves provide superior chemical resistance, increased cut and puncture resistance, and defense against the alkalinity of concrete materials. Many different materials, including latex, nitrile, polyurethane, and PVC, can be used to create the coatings. A risk assessment can be used to identify the best coating for a particular work.

Despite the fact that this kind of glove is quite popular, some coatings are known to become less flexible in cooler work settings. Additionally, they offer less insulation than uncoated gloves do. Although coated fabric gloves do provide some degree of chemical resistance, they should not be used instead of gloves made specifically for handling chemicals.

Aluminised Gloves 

These gloves can withstand high temperatures and are ideal for welding activities as well as work in furnaces, foundries, and laboratories with high-temperature ovens. They can provide heat protection in applications up to 1,000 degrees Celsius since they are made with insulating and reflecting qualities. 

Leather Gloves

Leather gloves have a good grip, are spark-resistant, and protect against surfaces that are sharp or rough. They can also shield the wearer from low-level heat sources like welding heat or friction heat from a rope gliding across the palms. When properly cared for, leather gloves can last a long time, but excessive heat can cause them to harden or shrivel. They can also cause your hands to get dry when not worn with a liner. 

Puncture Resistant Gloves 

These gloves are made specifically to protect against hand punctures. These can be braided Kevlar or gloves designed to look like fish skin. In order to prevent penetration from needles, shards, and other puncture dangers, the latter uses a scale- or flake-like structure.

Impact-Resistant and Vibration-Resistant Gloves 

Vibration or impact on the hand has caused harm to many people, which has led safety specialists to become quite interested in hand-arm vibration syndrome (HAVS). As a result, gloves designed to reduce this risk are also available now. Their purpose is to minimise vibration to the hands and absorb impact energy.

If you are performing work that could cause energy to be transferred to your hands or if you will be subjected to repetitive impact or vibration for a lengthy period of time, impact- or vibration-resistant gloves may be the best choice for hand protection. Impact-resistant and vibration-resistant gloves have been highly used in the fabrication and automotive industries, as well as in the construction industry, where jackhammers and other pneumatic tools may be used for extended periods of time. 

Chemical and Liquid-Resistant Gloves

Serious immediate or long-term health problems might result from chemical absorption through the skin. You can determine the appropriate amount of protection necessary to keep workers safe when handling chemical products by consulting the safety data sheet (SDS) of the product. The materials used to make chemical- or liquid-resistant gloves and some of their many uses are listed below.

Butyl Rubber 

Gloves made from this material are often utilised when employees need to be in close proximity to chemicals for a lengthy period of time. Additionally, they provide resistance to permeability by steam and water. Butyl rubber gloves are also employed to guard against chemicals including ketones, esters, alcohols, alkalis, nitric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid, and peroxides. 

Natural Latex and Rubber

These gloves are designed for accidental contact scenarios. They’re used in situations that present biological risks and include water-based liquids. 

Neoprene

Neoprene gloves are generally used in settings involving prolonged contact with materials like bases, acids, fuels, alcohols, peroxides, hydraulic fluids, hydrocarbons, organic acids and gasoline. 

Nitrile Rubber 

Nitrile rubber is used to make flexible, all-purpose gloves that can be used for accidental contact (like single-use exam gloves). When extended contact is intended, thicker nitrile gloves are utilised to protect the worker from petroleum oils, solvents, greases, gasoline, some acids and bases. 

Criteria for Buying Safety Gloves

The first step in choosing the ideal glove for the job is to assess the specific risks and hazards the user is likely to face. This includes seemingly small injuries because even a scrape or cut might result in an infection that necessitates medical attention and time off work.

Additional factors include:

  • Fit and Size: Small gloves may tear, but oversized gloves may impair dexterity.
  • Dexterity vs Protection: You must decide how to prioritise these two factors when a trade-off between them is occasionally inevitable.
  • Protection Levels: There are several levels of protection that gloves provide against a particular hazard, so you must make sure that the glove fulfils the standard for the task.
  • Wear and Tear: Check gloves often for signs of damage such as discolouration, tears, or swelling.
  • Expiration Date: Never use a safety glove after it has passed its expiration date.

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