According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, recordable workplace incidents involving hand accidents account for nearly 20 percent of all recordable injuries.
To help reduce the number of hand accidents, many employers require workers to wear work safety gloves when working with hazardous materials. Some companies hand out pamphlets or posters with guidelines for safe handling of chemicals.
Despite such efforts, accidents still occur. What can be done to prevent recordable hand accidents? Are these injuries more common than OH&S statistics indicate?
Using a survey sample of 500 workers in eight academic medical centers, University of Chicago researchers investigated the reasons why hand injuries occurred and whether there are differences between male and female workers.
Your hands are one of the most vital parts of your body. They take care of all the delicate processes your body performs to feed, shelter and protect yourself from hazardous chemicals.
Your skin is exposed to these substances on a constant basis, so what could be better than using gloves as protection?
This guide provides an overview of 9 different types of work safety gloves and when they should be used, so you can always be sure you’re using the right glove for the job.
1. Coated Fabric Gloves
Punctures, cuts and chemicals are all common occupational hazards for many industries. Coated fabric gloves provide an improvement over traditional fabric gloves, which fail to protect against the potential danger of these three factors.
Traditional non-coated fabric gloves are composed of a thin layer of cotton or rubber, without any additional protective coating.
Coated fabric gloves offer a step up from this by covering the hands and fingers in a breathable nylon mesh coated with PVC or nitrile rubber that protects you from external trauma.
Coated fabric gloves are in no way a replacement for proper safety equipment or safety apparel. Coated fabric gloves only offer protection from punctures, cuts, and chemicals.
You must still wear eye protection and leather or full-coverage safety apparel which includes a minimum of 16 ounces of steel to protect against a puncture and/or cut, as well as chemical resistance should you be exposed to a chemical hazard.
2. Butyl Rubber Gloves
When working with chemicals, butyl rubber gloves are the finest option. Often used in laboratories and industries, they are perfect for protecting the skin while handling a variety of substances.
Safety is always important when handling chemicals, but you can’t do your job effectively if you get the gloves wet. The butyl rubber gloves are made to stay dry and provide a secure barrier against liquids, gases and radiant heat.
The gloves are made of a thin rubber material that is very tough. They are designed to fit snugly, making them comfortable while also providing a thorough protection.
Butyl rubber gloves do not allow any type of gas to penetrate and they don’t absorb any liquid. Not only do they protect your hands and fingers, but they also cover the wrists, forearms and lower arms for complete protection.
The material contains no harmful chemicals so it isn’t dangerous to the wearer or anyone else around them. It does not react with any substances and the gloves do not lose their strength or elasticity.
3. Leather Gloves
People can find leather gloves as a fashion accessory or for protection against the cold.
The fact that they are protected by tough skin and don’t need to be removed makes it easier to use them in various situations such as gardening, doing chores around the house, picking up trash on walking paths, playing sports or going out on the town with friends. This also makes them a reliable choice for school and work.
There are many types of gloves one can find in the marketplace, however, some have advantages over others. For example, wool or cotton gloves may provide the most warmth for a given price.
However, leather gloves will withstand the cold much better than either of these materials and will last longer. Additionally, leather gloves are easier to take off and put on compared to other types of gloves.
4. Aluminized Gloves
Knowing the right type of gloves for your job is key to your safety. Aluminized gloves are the perfect choice for anybody who is working with heat, such as tailors who have a hot iron in their hand.
These gloves not only provide protection from burns but also can withstand hot surfaces and molten metals without melting or sticking to the surface.
Aluminized gloves are constructed with aluminized fabric. These fabrics allow air flow through the glove when it is in contact with heat and are very durable as well.
They are great for tasks that require carpenters to use a hammer and nails, such as construction workers who need to pound a nail into wood.
5. Cotton/Fabric Gloves
If you don’t have the time or resources to buy and maintain a set of commercial gloves, try purchasing a set of these cotton gloves. They are great for safely handling most chemicals, and when used in conjunction with proper safety equipment can also protect against most hazards.
More importantly, they’re much more affordable than commercial options! They’re perfect for projects where the protection level is not so high that you need to worry about skin contact with toxic chemicals.
6. Vibration-Resistant/Impact-Resistant Gloves
If you’re someone who is still using the traditional gloves, then you might want to consider trying these impact-resistant gloves.
This type of glove prevents vibrations from traveling through your fingers and wrists due to its lightweight fiber construction.
It also features a polyurethane coating that can prevent oil and paint based skin irritations as well as effectively protect against fuel spills, sand, and dust particles.
This kind of glove is also machine washable so you can just throw it in the washer and hang it to dry.
7. Kevlar Gloves
Kevlar is created by weaving numerous thin strands of fiber into an array of fiberglass yarns. Kevlar provides exceptional strength, flexibility, and durability over a wide temperature range while remaining light weight.
Kevlar gloves are ideal for tasks that require lightweight yet durable hand protection, specifically light-to-medium duty tasks where product cost and sensitive sensors or equipment must be protected from puncture or abrasion.
Applications that require protection from heat, electrical insulation, cut resistance, and chemical resistance make Kevlar gloves an ideal choice.
8. Puncture-Resistant Gloves
A couple of years ago, I was playing in my own soccer game for the first time when I noticed a tear in my new gloves.
If a cut or puncture happens to get through your glove, the pressure of your palm against the ground will cause your hand to start bleeding.
In order to prevent this kind of injury, many soccer players wear gloves that are designed with puncture-resistant material.
Puncture-resistant material is typically made of nylon threads that are woven together in a way that keeps the shape and strength intact while allowing air to pass through.
Because gloves that are designed with this material are so tightly woven, they are not very comfortable, which is probably why most soccer players choose not to wear them.
9. Latex, Rubber or Plastic Gloves
These gloves are commonly used to protect the hands from hazardous and dirty substances in the workplace or other settings.
These gloves can be made from natural rubber or synthetic rubber. Natural rubber is considered a sustainable resource because it does not deplete the soil but rather improves it; however, natural rubber also has its drawbacks for health and safety.
Synthetic rubber is a petroleum product (petroleum is found in crude oil) so synthetic gloves can be made from materials that may be harmful to the environment.
Choosing the right type of glove for your job-site can save your life. It is important to take time to learn about the different types of hazards that could be present when you are on site.
Glove selection is a complex task and it’s even more difficult when you don’t know what kinds of gloves best suit your needs.