Your hands are two of your most important appendages, so it pays to protect them. There a variety of safety gloves available, but it can be hard to know which ones are the best for a particular profession or situation. Here are some tips for choosing the perfect pair of safety gloves.
Determine the hazards
The first step to choosing the correct glove is to determine the materials that will be handled and any hazards, such as extreme temperatures, biohazardous substances, harsh chemicals, or electrical current. Sometimes it is the product that needs to be protected. For example, circuit boards can be damaged by oils from a person’s skin, a crime scene will be contaminated by an investigator’s fingerprints, and food may be infected by germs on a person’s skin. Keep in mind whether part of the arm will need protection, in addition to the hand.
Choosing the right material
A chemical resistant chart can be used to determine which glove materials will offer maximum protection against specific chemicals. Manufacturers use 3 key factors (permeation rate, breakthrough time, and degradation) to determine the durability of their gloves. A low permeation rate is preferable and indicates the amount of chemicals that can pass through the glove. Breakthrough time denotes how long it takes the chemical to reach the inside of the glove. Degradation ratings show how quickly the gloves will deteriorate upon exposure to a specific chemical. For example, latex cannot be used for oilfield gloves because it degrades upon exposure to oil.
Types of gloves
A general design is the most common and versatile safety glove and is often used in construction trades. These gloves are usually constructed from leather, but cotton or knit fabric may be used and reinforced with PVC. Those working in occupations requiring the use of chemicals often utilize gloves comprised of rubber, nitrile, PVC, butyl, or polyurethane, which allow for greater dexterity. Some gloves are created specifically for certain occupations. For example, those who work in wildlife rehabilitation need thick, puncture-resistant material, mechanics require sturdy yet flexible gloves, and there are even gloves designed to protect against excessive vibration or impact for construction and oilfield workers.
Gloves that fit well and are comfortable are more likely to be utilized consistently. Gloves that are too small may lead to a loss of feeling in the hands while gloves that are too large may hinder work and get caught in machinery. Sweat-absorbing liners may be used with heavy, hot gloves. Textured and water-resistant gloves, including oilfield gloves, should be used when potentially working with slick surfaces.
Choosing the wrong type of glove or trying to use an ill-fitting pair can actually lead to injury instead of preventing it. It is worth investing the time, research, and money needed to select the correct pair of gloves for one’s needs and situation.