Product Focus: Hand Protection

Trends in ... hand protection

‘A fairly inexpensive insurance policy’

Workplace hand injuries should never be viewed as “part of the job.” With training and proper personal protective equipment, they are preventable. Yet 121,580 job-related hand injuries occurred in 2012 that required days away from work, according to the 2015 edition of the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts.” Here, experts from the hand protection industry share what’s new and what employers can do to help keep workers’ hands safe.

In demand

Anthony Di Giovanni, vice president of global marketing with Latham, NY-based Protective Industrial Products Inc., is seeing a demand for better cut protection. “More and more plants are upping the ante on cut level, but they want to keep the comfort and dexterity of a lighter-weight liner,” he said. “New technology ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene fibers with embedded micro-particles will offer up to two times the strength for the same size and weight as standard high-performance polyethylene.”

Robbie Irwin, product manager for Westport, Ireland-based Portwest, spoke about skin protection. “There is increasing market demand for water-based polyurethane and solvent-free coatings, as removing DMF from the process eliminates a skin irritant,” Irwin said. He also mentioned the importance of glove fit. “Gloves which are too small can restrict movement, cause hand fatigue and give protection to the wrong area of the hand,” he stated.

Dangerous misunderstanding

Cut protection standards can be confusing. Jon Lime, vice president of global sales for Grand Rapids, MI-based HexArmor knows this, and hopes to clarify a common misconception. “Currently the highest standard of cut resistance is ANSI/ISEA Level 5; however EN388, the European Standard (CE), also has a Cut Level 5,” he notes. “Due to the difference in testing methods, materials that test at the ANSI/ISEA Level 5 typically have higher (in some cases, much higher) cut properties than an EN388 Cut Level 5.”

Lime went on to explain that often manufacturers simply advertise “Cut 5” for their gloves without referencing a specific standard, which causes confusion. “In order to understand what level of protection you’re getting with a glove, it’s important to understand what standard is being referenced – EN388 or ANSI/ISEA,” he stressed.

Recognize the importance

“Hand protection is a fairly inexpensive insurance policy,” said Cory Houston, who works in the marketing department of Valencia, CA-based Mechanix Wear. “Assess the hazards and implement the right solutions to keep the end user safe and productive.”

Coming next month … 

Compiled with the assistance of the International Safety Equipment Association