25 Feb Keep Your Hands Injury Free with the Latest Safety Gloves
Your gloves need to fit your job environment.
For workers in the power line and pipeline construction industries, hands and fingers are often the first body parts to get exposed to potential hazards, and most likely the first parts of the body to get injured. Cuts from sharp objects, or injuries from power tools are the most common, sending thousands of workers to the emergency room each year.
Important questions you need to ask yourself before starting any job:
- Will your hands and fingers be protected no matter what type of work you’ll be doing?
- For night work, do your gloves have safety reflective tape?
- Do your gloves have a secure grip against slippery materials?
- Are they waterproof, resistant to ozone, sharp objects and falling debris?
- For electrical work, do they have a voltage classification?
- Are they properly insulated against extreme temperatures?
More than one pair of gloves may be necessary to keep your hands protected from multiple hazards, depending on the conditions, or the type of jobs you’ll be performing.
Setting the Standards on Glove Safety
According to OSHA regulation 1910.138 (a) and (b), it’s up to the employer to select the appropriate hand protection for their employees, depending on the conditions and the job. For medium to heavy-duty tasks, such as the use of hand tools, pipe handling and valve operation, high-performance hand protection is an absolute must. Employers are also required to make sure their employees wear the protective equipment.
“In a study conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), statistics revealed that 70% of workers who suffered hand injuries in manufacturing operations were not wearing gloves. Hand injuries among the remaining 30% occurred because hand protection was inadequate, damaged or misapplied.”
Encouraging Millennials to get their “Gloves On”
Construction workers under the age of twenty-five are twice as likely to have an injury on the job. Some injuries, particularly those to the hands, can end the profession of a young apprentice at a time when their career is just beginning. It’s up to the safety professionals and foremen to educate the crews, and help them choose proper sized hand protection and type of glove for the jobs they will be performing. These steps help them understand the overall importance of proper personal protective equipment (PPE).
Things to Consider when Choosing the Right Glove
There are as many types of gloves on the market as there are jobs in the construction industry. Choosing to wear the proper gloves can reduce the risk of hand injuries for construction workers by as much as sixty percent. The primary purpose of gloves should be protection, but they can also enhance the performance and efficiency of workers. But take note, wearing the wrong gloves can be dangerous! There should never be a gap between safe and unsafe when it comes to selecting gloves.
Size and Type Matters
To find the proper size, measure the circumference of the hand around the palm, or at the base of the metacarpals:
Chart courtesy of Grainger
Another requirement from OSHA is the “cut level” standard from ANSI/ISEA 105 (American National Standards Institute/International Safety Equipment Association). This guideline assigns the acceptable cut levels ranging from 0 to 5, with 0 being lowest and 5 being the highest for U.S. protective glove manufacturers based on results from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM). Many U.S. retailers go by these standards when manufacturing their gloves.
Natural vs. Man Made Materials
A new generation of lighter-weight, ergonomically designed gloves have replaced traditional bulky leather and polymer workhorse gloves with ones that are comfortable and safe for general construction, lumber handlers, scaffolding and pipe handling work.
Leather gloves made from pigskin, goatskin or cowhide, along with styles made from a blend of leather and other materials coated with natural rubber, nitrile, PVC, or polyurethane help maintain touch sensitivity and dexterity, so you can get your work done comfortably.
Leather is Like a Second Skin, Like Your Own Skin, it Can Easily be Cut
That’s why it is a good idea to choose a leather glove with a cut-resistant liner for added protection.
Palm coated gloves are a great option when you need flexibility, but added protection for your palms. These gloves can be coated with latex or nitrile which has the additional benefit of insulation, cut resistance, and anti-vibration.
In many cases palm coated gloves offer a much better feel, are comfortable, cut resistant, and cost less that their leather counterparts
Gloves with dual protection
Gloves that offer sponge nitrile coatings with cut-resistant liners made of Kevlar® or High Performance Polyethylene (HPPE) are superior choices for jobs where you come in contact with oily substances. These gloves serve a dual purpose because they are also ideal for cut resistance in handling sheet metal or other sharp materials. Gloves with a cut level of 1 or 2 are typically used by workers where cut hazards are minimal.
Gloves rated 3 or 4 should typically be used when sharp edges are present, and gloves rated a 5 are for higher-risk jobs, such as working with glass products or sheet metal. One important thing to note is a moving or serrated blade will cut through any glove – even those that have the most high-tech cut-resistant materials.
Energy Services South, a PLH Group oil and gas pipeline construction company would typically choose this type of glove for pipeline emergency call out work.
High Tech Gloves that Soften the Blow
“Smartskin” gloves are patented with D3O® material which flows freely when moved during normal use, but upon impact, the protective outer material locks together, absorbing the shock from heavy falling objects, protecting the muscles, skin, and bones in your hands and fingers beneath the glove.
After the “Smartskin” absorbs and disperses the energy from the blow, they instantly return to a flexible state, allowing you to move freely.
Southeast Directional Drilling, a PLH Group company opts for this type of glove when performing horizontal directional drilling construction projects.
Watch video explaining technology behind these gloves.
Gloves that Get a Grip
Power line workers need to grip tools, small parts and apparatus to work more efficiently, and keep drop zones safer.
Power line gloves also need to have electrical arc flash protection, be resistant to heat penetration, and have dexterity no matter the weather conditions.
Power Gripz gloves were developed by a Canadian lineman and have patented silicone ribbed fingertips and palm grip pads.
They also have a 40 cal/cm² arc rating. PLH Group electric construction companies Air2, LLC, Power Line Services, Tessco Energy, TTR Substations and Edison Power Constructors are all candidates for these gloves.
Combating the Cold
Fingers, and especially fingertips are more susceptible to cold because they do not have major muscles to produce heat and are usually the first point of contact with colder surfaces in comparison with other parts of the hand.
Look for linings that are fully “sock lined” meaning the lining wraps completely around the sides of the fingers so that heat stays inside the glove and doesn’t leak out through the seams.
PLH Group subsidiary Pipeworx builds oil and gas pipelines in northwestern Canada, Ironclad Tundra Gloves are a great solution.
Electrical linemen sometimes choose “first‐finger mitts” which have separate openings for the index finger and thumb, but the remaining fingers are grouped together for warmth.
NEW YEAR, NEW OUTLOOK ON HAND SAFETY
Do yourself a favor and look at the gloves you currently have. If they are damaged, outdated with OSHA safety standards, uncomfortable to wear, or in otherwise bad condition, seriously consider replacing them sooner rather than later. Not doing anything is waiting for an injury to occur, which could result in lost work days, or permanent injury.
When gloves are used, monitored and documented as part of PPE safety programs, they can be a powerful tool in the ongoing effort to create and sustain truly safe workplaces. Ensuring employees wear the proper work gloves will keep them safer, more productive, and more confident while on the job.