Work gloves are an important part of a work safety program. They are a type of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) that protects hands from sharp objects, heat and chemicals, projectiles, pollutants and work equipment. They guard the employees’ fingers, palms, and wrists against cuts, blisters, and skin damage.
But to ensure maximum protection, the right glove must be chosen for the right task. Not knowing what to look for in the best work gloves is the most common issue employers face when determining which glove to buy. This guide will help you figure out what to look for when purchasing working gloves for your employees.
Access the Risks
Every job site is unique, so you’ll need to spend some time analysing the potential hazards your employees are exposed to. Sharp items such as broken glass, extreme temperatures and exposure to toxic substances that may be absorbed through the skin are the three main hazards that every employer should be aware of.
So, before you buy safety working gloves for your employees, do a full safety review of your worksite. If you’re unsure how to detect these hazards, you should seek advice from a safety specialist.
Remember that safety gloves should only be used in the workplace as a precautionary measure, not as the wearer’s primary line of defence against danger. Once you’ve identified the potential hazards, you should endeavour to minimise the threat by adjusting your operations through automation, engineering or substitution.
Choose the Right Material
Safety gloves are made from different materials to suit the needs of different applications.
- Nitrile or latex rubber gloves (disposable gloves) are an affordable hand protection solution. They offer good protection against accidental contact and the spread of infectious illness but aren’t enough to protect against industrial chemicals, cuts, and abrasions.
- Viton, polyvinyl chloride and polyvinyl alcohol gloves provide great protection against a wide range of industrial gases and dangers. However, they are not intended to guard against all hazards and should only be used in specific conditions.
- Cryogenic-resistant gloves are the top choice for preventing frostbite and insulating team members from severe temperatures. Still, they may not be enough to protect against industrial chemicals.
- Kevlar gloves are an excellent choice for preventing cuts when handling sharp objects or tools while providing modest protection against toxic chemicals.
Your employees should have access to high-visibility gloves when working outside in the cold, at night, or in low-light settings. While working, they should always be able to see their hands. Hi-vis safety gloves include neon, highly reflective patches that increase their visibility.
Depending on the task, you may need to seek out protective gloves with a firm, rigid grip pattern to guarantee your staff can still use tools and handle other objects while working in moist circumstances. Some gloves are intended for specialized sectors, such as those used by maintenance crews, utility workers, and gardening professionals.
Ensure the Right Size
Form-fitting gloves that fit the worker’s hand size and form provide superior protection from sharp items and industrial chemicals. The glove should ideally fit snugly but not too tightly. If they are excessively loose, they will not give enough protection. If they are overly tight, they will be unpleasant and may induce hand fatigue and decrease dexterity. To determine optimal glove fit, measure the circumference of the dominant hand around the palm or at the base of the metacarpals.
- Between 17 and 19cm = XS
- Between 19 and 20cm = S
- Between 20 and 22cm = M
- Between 22 and 24cm = L
- Between 24 and 26cm = XL
- Between 26 and 28cm = XXL
- Between 28 and 30cm = XXXL
It’s also important to consider the amount of dexterity required to perform the task. Thinner gloves are more flexible but they provide less protection. Thicker gloves offer improved protection, but they may make work more difficult. Keep in mind that some gloves may lose their shape with time, so additional PPE may be necessary to reduce the amount of exposed skin.
You’ve certainly heard of Dyneema and Kevlar fibres, but do you know what they actually safeguard against? Kevlar, for example, is extremely heat resistant and can withstand temperatures ranging from 160°C to 450°C. Dyneema, on the other hand, is extremely strong for its weight and is more resistant to wear and cutting than nylon.
You’ll also need to get familiar with yarn gauges: Gloves with 15-21 gauge, are thinner and useful when manual dexterity is required, but they will wear out faster than thicker gloves with garage ranging from 7-13.
Check Performance Against Different Substances
To indicate how well their gloves work when exposed to various chemicals, manufacturers employ three major terms: breakthrough time, permeation rate, and deterioration.
Breakthrough time – This is the length of time it takes for a chemical to infiltrate through the glove material and reach the inside. The movement of a chemical through a substance without passing via pinholes, pores, or other visible openings is referred to as permeation. This determines how long a glove may be worn.
Permeation rate – The amount of chemicals that penetrate through. So, go with a low rate.
Degradation – The breakdown of the glove material as a result of chemical contact, causing it to become harder, softer, or swell. Select gloves with a good or excellent deterioration grade.
Invest in High-Quality Gloves
Don’t try to save money by purchasing less expensive work gloves. In addition to providing less protection, they’ll also need to be updated more frequently than higher-quality alternatives. In the long term, buying more pairs of lower-priced gloves will cost you more money than investing a little more in longer-lasting ones.
Gloves must be properly maintained in order to perform at their optimum. Gloves should be examined before each use to ensure that they are not ripped, punctured, or otherwise rendered ineffective. A brief check will help detect cuts or tears, but a more thorough inspection, such as wetting the gloves with water and tightly rolling the cuff towards the finger, will reveal any pinholes. Gloves that are stiff or discoloured may also indicate issues caused by prolonged wear or chemical deterioration.