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The Right Glove for the Right Protection

- June 12, 2017 by Linda Schafer (View all posts by Linda)

Exposure to harmful chemical and physical agents can result in injuries to workers. Many of these injuries can be prevented through the use of appropriate protective clothing. Choosing the right work glove is extremely important because different gloves provide protection in different ways and can help protect against chemicals, lacerations, burns, contusions, abrasions, electric shock, vibration, etc. With so many types of gloves available today, it’s important to understand the nature of the hazards your employees face in order to make the best glove choice. This blog details some of the factors that may influence the selection of workplace gloves:

Natural vs. Synthetic

While gloves made of natural materials (such as cotton and leather) are frequently used for physical hazards, synthetic gloves often provide the best protection against chemical risks. There are a wide range of materials varying in composition, thickness, and length, which allow workers to choose the right glove based not only on performance, but also on functionality and budgetary constraints.

Physical Hazards

Selecting gloves for physical hazards focuses on protecting against thermal hazards, vibration, abrasions and cuts. Leather, canvas, Kevlar and stainless steel mesh gloves provide resistance to heat, burns, and lacerations. Polymer coatings on cotton/polyester gloves add to durability and protection from abrasions. Non-conductive gloves protect against electric shock.

Chemical Hazards

Some gloves will provide protection against both physical and chemical hazards. Butyl rubber gloves provide exceptional resistance to gas and water vapors and are resistant to tears, abrasions, and degradation from heat, weather, and aging. Nitrile rubber gloves protect against solvents, petroleum products, and other harsh chemicals and also provide resistance to cuts, punctures, and abrasions. In my next blog, I will discuss specific considerations to be made when selecting a chemical glove.

Finally, when choosing a glove you need to make sure you are not creating any new dangers. For example, a glove can actually contribute to an injury if worn when operating some machinery. Always conduct a full analysis before making glove choices. When in doubt, contact your local Risk Management consultant for a thorough safety assessment.