Part 1: Safety

1.5 Hand Protection

Hand Protection

If a workplace hazard assessment reveals that employees face potential injury to hands and arms that cannot be eliminated through engineering and work practice controls, employers must ensure that employees wear appropriate protection. Potential hazards include skin absorption of harmful substances, chemical or thermal burns, electrical dangers, bruises, abrasions, cuts, punctures, fractures and amputations. Protective equipment includes gloves, finger guards and arm coverings or elbow-length gloves.

Employers should explore all possible engineering and work practice controls to eliminate hazards and use PPE to provide additional protection against hazards that cannot be completely eliminated through other means. For example, machine guards may eliminate a hazard. Installing a barrier to prevent employees from placing their hands at the point of contact between a table saw blade and the item being cut is another method.

Types of Protective Gloves

  • Palm
  • Mechanic’s
  • Latex
  • Vinyl
  • Nitrile
  • Chemical

There are many types of gloves available today to protect against a wide variety of hazards. The nature of the hazard and the operation involved will affect the selection of gloves. The variety of potential occupational hand injuries makes selecting the right pair of gloves challenging. It is essential that employees use gloves specifically designed for the hazards and tasks found in their workplace because gloves designed for one function may not protect against a different function even though they may appear to be an appropriate protective device.

The following are examples of some factors that may influence the selection of protective gloves for a workplace.

  • Type of chemicals handled.
  • Nature of contact (total immersion, splash, etc.).
  • Duration of contact.
  • Area requiring protection (hand only, forearm, arm).
  • Grip requirements (dry, wet, oily).
  • Thermal protection.
  • Size and comfort.
  • Abrasion/resistance requirements.

Gloves made from a wide variety of materials are designed for many types of workplace hazards. In general, gloves fall into four groups:

  • Gloves made of leather, canvas or metal mesh;
  • Fabric and coated fabric gloves;
  • Chemical- and liquid-resistant gloves;
  • Insulating rubber gloves (See 29 CFR 1910.137 and the following section on electrical protective equipment for detailed requirements on the selection, use and care of insulating rubber gloves).

 

Glove Selection

The following table from the U.S. Department of Energy (Occupational Safety and Health Technical Reference Manual) rates various gloves as being protective against specific chemicals and will help you select the most appropriate gloves to protect your employees. The ratings are abbreviated as follows: VG: Very Good; G: Good; F: Fair; P: Poor (not recommended). Chemicals marked with an asterisk (*) are for limited service.

Chemical Neoprene Latex/Rubber Butyl Nitrile
Acetaldehyde* VG G VG G
Acetic acid VG VG VG VG
Acetone* G VG VG P
Ammonium hydroxide VG VG VG VG
Amy acetate* F P F P
Aniline G F F P
Benzaldehyde* F F G G
Benzene* P P P F
Butyl acetate G F F P
Butyl alcohol VG VG VG VG
Carbon disulfide F F F F
Carbon tetrachloride* F P P G
Castor oil F P F VG
Chlorobenzene* F P F P
Chloroform* G P P F
Chloronaphthalene F P F F
Chromic acid (50%) F P F F
Citric acid (10%) VG VG VG VG
Cyclohexanol G F G VG
Dibutyl phthalate* G P G G
Diesel fuel G P P VG
Diisobutyl ketone P F G P
Dimethylformamide F F G G
Dioctyl phthalate G P F VG
Dioxane VG G G G
Epoxy resins, dry VG VG VG VG
Ethyl acetate* G F G F
Ethyl alcohol VG VG VG VG
Ethyl ether* VG G VG G
Ethylene dichloride* F P F P
Ethylene glycol VG VG VG VG
Formaldehyde VG VG VG VG
Formic acid VG VG VG VG
Freon 11 G P F G
Freon 12 G P F G
Freon 21 G P F G
Freon 22 G P F G
Furfural* G G G G
Gasoline, leaded G P F VG
Gasoline, unleaded G P F VG
Glycerin VG VG VG VG
Hexane F P P G
Hydrazine (65%) F G G G
Hydrochloric acid VG G G G
Hydrofluoric acid (48%) VG G G G
Hydrogen peroxide (30%) G G G G
Hydroquinone G G G F
Isooctane F P P VG
Kerosene VG F F VG
Ketones G VG VG P
Lacquer thinners G F F P
Lactic acid (85%) VG VG VG VG
Lauric acid (36%) VG F VG VG
Lineolic acid VG P F G
Linseed oil VG P F VG
Maleic acid VG VG VG VG
Methyl alcohol VG VG VG VG
Methylamine F F G G
Methyl bromide G F G F
Methyl chloride* P P P P
Methyl ethyl ketone* G G VG P
Methyl isobutyl ketone* F F VG P
Methyl metharcrylate G G VG F
Monoethanolamine VG G VG VG
Morpholine VG VG VG G
Naphthalene G F F G
Napthas, aliphatic VG F F VG
Napthas, aromatic G P P G
Nitric acid* G F F F
Nitric acid, red and white fuming P P P P
Nitromethane (95.5%)* F P F F
Nitropropane (95.5%) F P F F
Octyl alcohol VG VG VG VG
Oleic acid VG F G VG
Oxalic acid VG VG VG VG
Palmitic acid VG VG VG VG
Perchloric acid (60%) VG F G G
Perchloroethylene F P P G
Petroleum distillates (naphtha) G P P VG
Phenol VG F G F
Phosphoric acid VG G VG VG
Potassium hydroxide   VG VG VG VG
Propyl acetate G F G F
Propyl alcohol VG VG VG VG
Propyl alcohol (iso) VG VG VG VG
Sodium hydroxide VG VG VG VG
Styrene P P P F
Styrene (100%) P P P F
Sulfuric acid G G G G
Tannic acid (65) VG VG VG VG
Tetrahydrofuran P F F F
Toluene* F P P F
Toluene diisocyanate (TDI) F G G F
Trichloroethylene* F F P G
Triethanolamine (85%) VG G G VG
Tung oil VG P F VG
Turpentine G F F VG
Xylene* P P P F

Care of Protective Gloves

Protective gloves should be inspected before each use to ensure that they are not torn, punctured or made ineffective in any way. A visual inspection will help detect cuts or tears but a more thorough inspection by filling the gloves with water and tightly rolling the cuff towards the fingers will help reveal any pinhole leaks. Gloves that are discolored or stiff may also indicate deficiencies caused by excessive use or degradation from chemical exposure.

Any gloves with impaired protective ability should be discarded and replaced. Reuse of chemical-resistant gloves should be evaluated carefully, taking into consideration the absorptive qualities of the gloves. A decision to reuse chemically-exposed gloves should take into consideration the toxicity of the chemicals involved and factors such as duration of exposure, storage and temperature.

License

Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Building Maintenance & Construction: Tools and Maintenance Tasks (Interactive) by University of Hawai’i Maui College and the Construction Technology Program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.