Your hands are possibly the most important part of your body to those who work with them on a daily basis. Your life can change dramatically with even the slightest injury to your hand or fingers. We use a variety of protective gloves to help us protect our hands from danger, but what do we know about the gloves we wear?
Protective gloves come in all shapes and sizes, for just about every industry and specialized type of work you can think of. Your line of work will ultimately determine the type of protective glove you purchase and use to keep your hands safe.
Selecting the Right Protective Gloves For You
Regardless of your field, you should have the right glove to protect you. As stated before, there are many specific gloves out there for even the most unique jobs, chances are there is one for your line of work. If so, don’t settle for a generic glove, select one that is designed to protect under your specific conditions and hold up to the abuse you’re going to put them through.
Here are some examples of factors to consider when selecting the right protective glove for you:
- Type of chemicals handled
- Nature of contact
- Duration of contact (total immersion, splash, etc.)
- Area requiring protection (hand only, forearm, arm)
- Grip requirements (dry, wet, oily)
- Thermal protection
- Size and comfort
- Abrasion/resistance requirements
Each one of these factors is an important part of the process when selecting the right glove for you. Selecting the wrong protective glove for your application may do more harm than good. If you think you are being properly protected but have the wrong equipment, you could be seriously injured or worse under certain circumstances.
The four major groups of protective gloves fall into the following categories:
- Leather, canvas or metal mesh;
- Fabric and coated fabric gloves;
- Chemical- and liquid-resistant gloves;
- Insulating rubber gloves.
Caring For Your Protective Gloves
To ensure your gloves are up for the task, inspect them each time you use them. Make sure they are not torn, punctured or damaged in any way. A visual inspection will help spot any cuts or tears, but to ensure that you will be thoroughly protected, you can fill them will water and roll the cuff towards the fingers to seek out any tiny holes your eyes may have missed. For gloves that are not meant to get wet, you can also fill them with air using compressed air to check for tiny leaks.
Any discoloration or stiffness may also indicate that your gloves are not able to provide you with the protection they once did. When inspecting your gloves, be sure to check for any deficiencies or discoloration that may have been caused by excessive use or normal wear and tear from chemical exposure.
If any part of your protective gloves are impaired or damaged, they should be immediately thrown out and replaced. When evaluating your gloves, always consider the age of the glove and what they’ve been exposed to before deciding if they are up for the job or not.
Reusing chemical-resistant gloves should be carefully considered. Always make sure to account for the absorptive qualities of the glove when considering reusing them, as well as the toxicity of the chemicals involved.
Remember, each and every glove is different. In most cases, you get what you pay for. I have always been an advocate for spending the money on quality PPE and skipping a few nights a month out to dinner. The money you spend on protective gloves and other PPE can be the difference in your ability to continue to work and stay healthy.