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Trends in ... hand protection

June 1, 2012

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Your best tools

By Tracy Haas, editorial assistant

For construction, manufacturing and utilities work – where high-tech, expensive tools and machinery are commonplace – an old adage from the kitchen holds true: Your hands are your best tools. So when it comes to hand protection for these industries, “basic” is not going to be enough, experts say.

“Today’s glove consumer is looking for a glove with improved attributes relating to cut protection, longevity, dexterity, fit and comfort, grip, and health,” said Mike Carducci, product manager, high performance and cut-resistant fibers, for Menlo, GA-based Showa Best Glove.

In a joint email to Safety+Health, Juan Pablo Pellegrini, product engineer, and Matt Block, director of health and safety services for Chicago-based Magid Glove & Safety, said “emerging technologies have enabled the development of new spinning techniques that have created more high-performance yarns with increased comfort and aesthetic appeal.” Pellegrini and Block noted that “savvy glove manufacturers are utilizing materials like steel wire, fiberglass or a combination of both as the core in a yarn,” and said “other materials like HPPE (high-performance polyethylene) or para-aramid are then wrapped around this core to breed a product that offers not only extreme cut resistance, but also extreme comfort and durability.”

Avoid misuse

Despite these advances, glove misuse remains an issue. “Some workers do not have the appropriate
level of hand protection for their tasks, while others use gloves that are over-protective, resulting in unnecessary company costs,” said Veronica Savage, product manager, hand protection, for Roswell, GA-based Kimberly-Clark Professional. Carducci agreed. “The most common instances of misuse tend to be a lack of understanding of the protection levels and test standards used to identify the products,” he said.

Both offered recommendations for avoiding this common problem. Savage suggested employers consult a Quality Safety Sales Professional for a site-needs analysis. (QSSP is a training course sponsored by the International Safety Equipment Association.) Carducci pointed out that checking with the glove supplier can be helpful. “A reliable supplier or manufacturer will have this information readily available,” he said. “If you are unsure or confused about the standards or methods used to test gloves, there are plenty of online resources or literature available.”

‘Don’t skimp’

Because so many different types of safety gloves exist, researching your options and knowing what you want and need out of a safety glove is important.

“Don’t skimp,” said Andy Olson, senior product manager for St. Paul, MN-based Ergodyne. “Whether you’re looking for a glove to reduce vibration, protect workers from cut and slash, or keep hands warm and dry, the cost of getting the correct glove will quickly be paid back in increased productivity, longer glove life and, most importantly, a reduction in hand-related injuries.”

Purchasing a visually attractive glove can help encourage worker compliance, Savage said. Pellegrini and Block said color can play a major role in glove acceptance, noting that a “spectrum” of color options is now available when before workers were limited to “white or salt-and-pepper shells.”

Whether a work glove is long-lasting or disposable, white or pink, one thing remains true, according to Carducci: “You can have the most protective glove in the world, but if the worker won’t wear or can’t perform their duties without removing the glove, you are wasting your money.”

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association

Coming next month…
High-visibility protection

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