Work Gloves

Give safety a hand with safety gloves

Your hands are vital tools, and any hand injury is likely to be as disabling as it is painful. Statistics show that 25 percent of injuries that result in at least one day away from work are hand-related, and most of these result from a lack of safety gloves. After no hand protection, inadequate hand protection is the next leading cause of hand injuries, as there is no one type of glove that is suited to all tasks. Find out about the best gloves for your workplace, the importance of fit and the proper way to care for them.

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Hand Protection for the Workplace

Considering that 70 percent of people who sustained hand injuries in the workplace were not wearing gloves at all, you can decrease your injury risk simply by wearing safety gloves. Physical hazards of industrial equipment such as jagged edges, heat, vibration and corrosive chemicals can threaten your hands, so your work gloves need to be well-constructed and well-maintained to offer sufficient protection. And of course, they must be worn at all times to be effective!

If your gloves are not comfortable, you won't want to wear them. Begin by finding a proper fit – measure the width of your hand at the knuckle area to find your size, and be sure that there isn't too much extra fabric at the fingertips. Since your hands need to perform precise tasks on the work site, the challenge is to find sturdy work gloves that still allow for dexterity.

Types of Safety Gloves

Traditionally, work gloves were constructed out of cotton and leather, but these days there are stronger materials that are far less bulky. Be wary of leather gloves that appear to have a double layer of material on the palm, as this could simply be a bridge between the two sides of the glove that does not offer any more protection. Kevlar gloves are the best choice if you work with sharp objects – they can be twice as cut-resistant as leather, and they don't wear out nearly as quickly.

Vibration from power tools can affect the hands and arms, so anti-vibration gloves are necessary if you regularly operate these devices. Gloves with multiple layers are needed for heat protection, while chemical-resistant gloves made of latex, rubber or nitrile are essential for tasks such as industrial coating. While latex gloves are fairly cheap and provide better protection than vinyl, utility-grade nitrile gloves have become the protection of choice for painting and many jobs that involve solvents. They are made of synthetic latex, are very easy to slide on and are three times more puncture-resistant than latex.

You will notice that different gloves will have different grip patterns, often constructed out of polyurethane or nitrile rubber. Don't be too concerned about the particular pattern, as the design will not have much effect on the degree of grip; the design and fit of the glove itself will determine how it will grip. Consult material safety data sheets to determine what material and features your work gloves need to have.