Choosing the Right Hand Protection for Construction

Choosing the Right Hand Protection for Construction

14th November 2016

Here in the construction industry we work with hazardous equipment, often in risky situations which is why health and safety in the workplace is such an important issue.  Choosing the right equipment for the task at hand is an essential part of the risk assessment that employers are legally required to carry out before a task is begun.  This means making sure that any access equipment is right for the job at hand – ladders, work platforms, scaffolding, etc.  The right type of equipment can help to add an extra level of safety.  Today we have some advice for you on how to choose the right type of hand protection for the job.

Substance Identification – gloves differ in design, thickness and material and no glove material will protect against all substances and no glove will protect against a specific substance indefinitely. 

·         Water/Wet Work – prolonged contact with water (especially water containing detergents) may cause dermatitis so the gloves used will need to meet the European Standard EN374-2.

·         Substances in products, created by work processes or natural substances – some products contain substances that can harm the skin (the product label or material safety data sheet should state this) which will necessitate the use of protective gloves.  Protection from substances created by work processes and natural substances can be a little trickier.  Not all harmful substances come in labelled containers.  Substances generated during work activities (solder fumes, wood dust, etc.) can cause skin problems as can some foods.  If you’re not sure about the substance you’re handling, check your trade association website for more information.

·         Chemicals – choose gloves that meet the European Standard EN374-3 but make sure that the glove you choose protects against the specific chemical that will be handled.  Some chemicals may cause the glove material to deteriorate over time.

·         Glove manufacturers produce charts that show how well their gloves perform when in contact with a variety of substances.  These charts cover three key issues:

o   Breakthrough Time – the time a chemical takes to permeate through the material and reach the inside.   This tells you how long the gloves can be used for.

o   Permeation Rate – this is the amount that permeates through the glove material – the higher the rate, the more of the chemical will move through to the inside of the glove so it’s best to choose a lower rate.

o   Degradation – this indicates the deteriorate rate of the glove material on contact with a specific chemical.  Some chemicals will destroy glove material by making it harder, softer or even making it swell.

Hazard Assessment – you need to carry out a full assessment of the task at hand in order to determine the type and level of protection necessary.  For instance, a sheet metal operator will need gloves with a high level of cut protection while a forklift truck operator is unlikely to be exposed to cut hazards but will need gloves with an excellent grip facility.  It’s also necessary to determine how much usage the gloves will have and how often they will need replacing as this will allow you to budget accordingly.