Our perception of industrial gloves needs to change…
The hands can be very much taken for granted yet are one of the most complex and exposed parts of the body.
How often do you think “do my hands need protection?” before starting a task at home or in the workplace? Or is it the case that you begin the task and discover your hands blister or suffer a cut or puncture wound and THEN consider wearing hand protection?
The hand is the most commonly injured body part, more than twice as likely to be injured than an arm, shoulder, or wrist. Why is this? Our hands and fingers are first to be used when carrying out a physical task and are more often in close proximity to a risk of injury.
While a hand injury can cause physical injuries, it also can inflict serious psychological damage. In addition to chronic pain and scarring, workers also might experience depression, anxiety and other psychological symptoms.
With greater awareness and risk assessments in industry many organisations now mandate hand protection for their workforce.
The continual challenge in the workplace though is to overcome the stereotype that gloves are not required for hard wearing hands and that any hand protection will be cumbersome and will slow the task down.
With ever increasing improvements in composite yarn, fibre and coating technology industrial gloves are becoming thinner and thus offer far greater tactility so there is more choice of gloves to suit every application. The tighter the weave the higher the gauge/the thinner the glove.
No longer is it the case that two or three different gloves are required to address such risks as cut whilst allowing the operative to use mobile phones and tablets which are now more commonplace in todays world of work.
With thinner lighter gauge gloves comes the perception of reduced protection so training and education is important to convey the latest advances in glove design which provide cut and liquid/oil protection whilst ensuring comfort, grip and abrasion resistance.
The most common glove coatings are PU (Polyurethane), foam nitrile, flat nitrile and natural rubber latex. Each coating gives a certain characteristic and can be combined with a thickness of glove to improve wear and/or dexterity.
It is also true to say that as an item of workwear style still plays a part in glove design. Nobody wants to wear clothing or PPE that is not modern or stylish!
Most glove suppliers/manufacturers will offer a site survey to ensure the correct gloves are being used for the various applications and it is good practice to conduct at least one survey per year to keep up to date with glove technology and changes in applications or work practices.
Whilst knowledge of hand protection is increasing there is still a view that gloves are a commodity product to be purchased at little cost without consideration for user comfort or cost in use (number of gloves used per shift or per week before replacement). Questions to ask are;
- Does the glove meet latest standards?
- Is the glove comfortable for continuous wear?
- Is the glove coating suitable for the application?
- Is the workforce sufficiently trained as to why a particular glove has been chosen for a task?
- Do the workforce understand the importance of hand care and cleanliness?
- Is the glove manufacturer part of BSIF (British Safety Industry Federation)?
- Is the glove supplier part of the Registered Safety Supplier Scheme (RSSS)?
The Registered Safety Supplier Scheme (RSSS) is the British Safety Industry Federations initiative to combat non approved product being sold in the UK. Companies displaying the schemes logo have signed a binding declaration that the safety equipment they offer meets the appropriate standards, fully complies with the PPE regulations and is appropriately CE marked.