Hand protection is an important element of employee safety. Not only is hand protection a good safety precaution, it’s a requirement. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA developed a hand protection standard, which reads in part, “Employers shall select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when employees’ hands are exposed to hazards such as those from skin absorption of harmful substances; severe cuts or lacerations; severe abrasions; punctures; chemical burns; thermal burns; and harmful temperature extremes.”
The main way to protect employees’ hands is through the use of gloves. Gloves come in many different safety levels for a variety of applications. It is important to choose gloves that will protect against the hazards in your work environment. For example, a glove used for basic food preparation will be a lot thinner than a glove used to clean fry vats. Basic food prep gloves will not protect against knives, hot temperatures or chemical dangers. You don’t want to put people at risk by failing to provide the appropriate gloves for the task.
- Disposable gloves are usually made of lightweight plastic and can help guard against mild irritants like cleaning solutions. These are also commonly used in foodservice.
- Natural fabric gloves provide basic protection against dirt and cuts, but are not good for protecting against more dangerous hazards. They are good for improving your grip while handling slick objects.
- Leather gloves protect against heat and rough objects. Used with a liner, they’re also good for electrical work.
- Rubber/Latex gloves can be made of rubber, neoprene, poly vinyl alcohol or vinyl chloride. These gloves protect hands from corrosives. Latex gloves are commonly used in medical settings to protect workers against blood borne germs and diseases. They are also good for protecting hands from oil and dirt.
- Metal Mesh gloves are used to protect hands from cuts and scratches. They’re used most commonly by people working with cutting tools and sharp instruments.
- Aluminized gloves are designed to protect against high heat.
As with all safety equipment and products, you need to read the manufacture’s protection information to make sure that the gloves will provide the protection you need.
Once you have chosen gloves made of the appropriate materials for your job, the next step is to make sure they fit. Employees hands are not all the same size, so a one-size fits all approach will not work when it comes to hand safety. People with smaller hands need smaller gloves than those with larger hands. You don’t want an employee wearing a glove that’s too big, only for it to fall off and cause injury. Likewise, a glove that is too small can tear or break, also causing injury.
Another thing to keep in mind with gloves is dexterity. Employees need to be able to accomplish their tasks while wearing the gloves. Thicker gloves make it harder to grab items, so you’ll need to make sure employees can do their jobs properly while maintaining the highest level of protection possible.
See the Frontline Catalog to find all sorts of Gloves