How to keep your hands safe at work.
Did you know that 70% of workers experiencing hand injuries were not wearing any safety gloves at the time? and that hand injuries are the second most common injury in construction (only back injuries are more frequent). Wearing the right pair of safety gloves is the solution to a lot of hazards that put your hands at risk. Protect your hands against scrapes, cuts, amputations, chemical exposures and other hazards by wearing the right gloves.
When you select protective gloves for hand injury prevention, base your choice on the work, the wearer and the environment they work in. You need to consider the following five factors:
- Identify the substances handled.
- Identify all other hazards.
- Consider the type and duration of contact.
- Consider the user – size and comfort.
- Consider the task.
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After considering all the above the best way to protect your hands is to choose a glove that conforms to all the relevant European Standards. Look at the safety data sheets provided that detail how well their gloves perform.
European Hand Protection Standards
EN 420: general requirements including design and construction, innocuousness, cleaning instructions, electrostatic properties, sizing, dexterity, water vapour, transmission and absorption along with marking and information.
EN388: protection against mechanical risks. This covers protection from physical injury to the hand such as abrasion, blade cuts, punctures and tearing of the glove and skin.
EN 407: protection against thermal risks such as heat and/or fire. There are 6 key performances in which they will be tested against: resistance to a large melting metal spray, resistance to small melting metal spray, resistance to radiating heat, resistance to convective heat, resistance to contact heat for 15 seconds, and resistance to flammability.
EN 12477: gloves for welders. These have been tested for use in manual metal welding, cutting and allied processes. Classified into two types: Type A (lower dexterity and Type B (higher dexterity).
EN ISO 1809: protective gloves for mechanical vibration and shock. Tested and data analysed for the vibration transmissions from handle to the palm of the hand.
EN 374: protection against chemicals and micro-organisms. The glove needs to be liquid proof before it meets this specific standards.
EN 16350:2014: protective gloves for electrostatic properties. Can be used in areas where there may be an increased risk of explosion e.g. a refinery.
EN 455:2000: medical gloves for single use.
EN 511:2006: protects against conductive cold, down to -50°C.
EN 381-7: helps to protect against cuts, lacerations and more serious injury when operating a handheld chainsaw.
Also to consider
Before buying grip gloves, heat or cut-resistant gloves it is worth considering a few other factors that could affect your final choice that revolve around the task to be performed. Consider the following:
- Always remember that thicker gloves give better protection but thinner gloves give better dexterity.
- You have to think how long will the gloves be worn for? Comfort becomes an increasingly important factor the longer the glove is worn. Hands can sweat inside, making them uncomfortable to wear, therefore it’s recommended to let staff regularly remove gloves let their hands breath.
- You should also remember that rough or textured surface offer a better grip than those without.
- Gloves should fit comfortably. Hands can feel tired and lose their grip if gloves are too tight. Furthermore, gloves that are too big for your hands can be uncomfortable and the extra folds of material could affect ability to work effectively.
- When working in environments that operate outside of typical room temperatures a more suitable glove will be required. Whilst leather gloves offer some protection from the cold, they are not so effective when wet. Specific cold weather gloves and thermal gloves are a better choice for working in wet and cold temperatures whilst breathable gloves suit warmer conditions.
- Try to think about cuff styles such as unsupported; beaded, straight; pinked; supported; gauntlet; knitwrist; safety cuff; slip on cuff.
Once you have considered all the above factors you’ll have a better picture of which safety gloves are more suited to your industry and your specific requirements. Making an informed decision at this stage and purchasing the correct gloves will save you time and money in the long run. It will also ensure that staff members wearing the gloves are completely safe performing the tasks at hand and remain as comfortable as possible throughout.