Hand injuries in the US send over a million workers to the emergency room every year. The Bureau of Labor and Statistics estimates that over 100,000 workers will lose time on the job as a result of those hand injuries. This is not too surprising considering the fact that the hands are put into harm’s way nearly every day.
These numbers demonstrate the importance of taking the proper precautions to avoid harm. Choosing the best industrial products and gloves to keep hands safe is done by matching the properties of a glove with the potential hazards that a worker will face on the job. There is no catch-all glove that can protect the hands from every hazard, so it is the managers’ and supervisors’ obligation to put together a comprehensive plan that matches every job task with the appropriate personal protective equipment, or PPE.
Preventing Abrasions, Lacerations, And Punctures
These types of injuries comprise the most common hazards to the hands. They come from handling materials, rough surfaces, pinch points, and sharp edges.
Leather work gloves are the most common PPE for hands. Leather gloves provide an effective defense against abrasions and lacerations and come at a very economical price. In addition, leather materials also act as a shield against heat and cold weather as long as they stay dry. They also double as providers of effective insulation, which is why they are found in welder’s industrial supplies and apparel.
For heavy duty work, leather does not always cut it. Kevlar industrial products are the premium choice for heavy duty work, as Kevlar fibers are, pound for pound, more durable than steel. This added protection comes at additional cost, but the protection that they provide is unparalleled. The extra cost is well justified when it keep works safe and on the job. Kevlar is sometimes used as a lining material to offer protection at a lower cost. Industrial products made from Kevlar also offer thermal protection and insulation.
Addressing Chemical Hazards On The Job
Chemical hazards are unique in the workplace. Some chemicals cause little or no injury on contact and instead cause degenerative damage over a long period of time. On the other hand, some chemicals prove to be dangerous as soon as one comes into contact with them, causing instant burns. Always refer to the material safety data sheet for each substance in order to choose the right protection.
Chemical materials are more common on the job than many people think. Solvents, paints, plastic resins, fuels, and petroleum products are all chemicals that require the use of protective industrial products. Even if a chemical seems innocent enough, it is always a good idea to treat it with care. For example, Benzene was widely used as an all-purpose cleaner and solvent for both equipment and hands until it was discovered to be a carcinogen.
Typical industrial supplies for protection against chemical exposure are disposable latex and nitrile gloves. These gloves are inexpensive, easy to use, and can be disposed of when needed. They form a barrier between the hands and chemicals, and can be used for handling nearly any material. However, they do not offer any physical protection since they are easily torn or punctured. In order to get more out of disposable gloves, it is sometimes best to layer them underneath other industrial supplies.
For a more physically durable type of PPE, dipped PVC gloves provide protection against chemical exposure with a durable, thick plastic material.
Intricate Manual Work
An important limitation of many of the industrial products described above is the loss of dexterity and gripping ability. For work that requires manual dexterity, it is best to utilize a different set of industrial supplies.
Mechanic’s gloves combine protection from abrasions with thin, lightweight, and tight materials that do not limit manual dexterity or gripping ability. These are complex gloves that combine different materials. Stretch spandex is used for a tight fit, dual layer synthetic leather is used for abrasion protection, and thermal plastic rubber is molded onto a thin layer for additional protection and grip. This combination results in a thin and light glove that is ideal for intricate work.