Choosing the right personal protective equipment is essential to ensure the safety of your employees. The following advice will help you choose the right protective gloves to include in your PPE kit.
The most effective and reliable way to prevent skin problems is to design and operate processes to avoid exposure to hazardous substances. Therefore, before using protective gloves, take all possible steps to achieve this goal.
Protective gloves are often less effective than other control measures, but may be required if avoiding exposure is impractical or insufficient to protect employees. When choosing protective gloves, make your choice based on the job, the wearer and their working environment.
Identify the substance being handled.
Identify all other hazards.
Consider the type and duration of exposure.
Consider the user - size and comfort.
Consider the task.
Identify the substance to be handled
Gloves vary in design, material and thickness. No glove material can resist all substances and no glove can resist a specific substance forever.
Prolonged or frequent contact with water, especially with soaps and detergents, can lead to dermatitis. "Wet work" is the term used to describe the tasks in the workplace that can lead to this condition.
To protect your hands from "wet work", choose gloves that comply with European Standard EN374-2. This means that the gloves are waterproof.
Glove manufacturers often produce charts to show how their gloves perform against different substances. Manufacturers use three key terms, breakthrough time, penetration rate and degradation.
Breakthrough time is the time it takes for a chemical to penetrate the glove material and reach the interior. Penetration is the process by which a chemical can pass through a material without passing through pinholes or pores or other visible openings. This tells you how long the glove can be used.
The rate of permeation is the amount then permeates through. The higher the rate, the more of the chemical will pass through the glove. Choose a low rate.
Some chemicals can damage the glove material. It may harden, soften or swell. Degradation indicates that the glove material deteriorates when in contact with a particular chemical. Choose a glove with an excellent or good degradation rating.
You can use the manufacturer's chart to determine the most suitable glove for handling chemicals, or the glove manufacturer can help with this step.
The performance of glove materials varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, so make your selection based on the correct manufacturer's data.
Remember that the manufacturer's data applies to pure chemicals, not mixtures. When you mix chemicals, their properties will change. As a rule of thumb, choose gloves based on the component of the mixture that has the shortest penetration time. However, the only way to be absolutely sure that a glove will perform well in a mixture is to test it.
Some people are allergic to gloves made of natural rubber latex. Choose non-latex gloves unless there is no alternative that will provide the required protection. If latex must be used, choose low-protein, powder-free gloves.
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