Workplace Solutions Hand/arm protection

Finding the right glove: key factors

What are some of the underlying reasons why hand injuries are still so common?


Responding is Uzma Altaf, senior marketing specialist and social media strategist, Protective Industrial Products Inc., Latham, NY.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 2.8 million nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses were reported in 2017. Because most injuries are avoidable, we need to understand why the injury rate remains enormous. The top providers of safety products are well acquainted with injury statistics by industry and have worked on efficiency and usage tools to help reduce workplace injuries.

When it comes to hand protection, one of the top causes of injury on the job is workers not wearing their safety gloves – they had gloves but weren’t wearing them. This happens when the gloves provided are “job-prohibitive.” Gloves that are too tight, too bulky, too slippery lead to workers opting to use their bare hands to complete a task. That’s an injury waiting to happen. An onsite safety assessment tool will provide you with optimal safety products that are tailored to the job application.

To select the ideal safety glove for workers, it’s important to keep a few key factors in mind. Safety gloves are available in various coatings. An appropriate coating may enhance a glove’s grip by providing friction between the glove and what the worker is holding, significantly reducing slippage. Different coatings work better for given working conditions. For example, certain coatings, such as more advanced polyurethanes, provide gloves with good grip and high dexterity in slightly wet and oily conditions – making them ideal for small parts assembly, machine operation, shipping, wiring and inspection jobs. Many of these coatings are also touchscreen compatible, making it easy for the wearer to operate a tablet, smartphone or work device without having to remove the gloves. The idea is to keep the hands protected at all times while on the job.

The right fit or size is another important factor that directly correlates with productivity and efficiency. That’s why most industry-leading safety gloves are available in a wide range of sizes, typically from XXS to XXXL. A better fit means a safer, happier worker. When the glove is too loose, the wearer can experience less tactile sensitivity and control. If the glove is too tight, it can wear faster and inhibit movement, putting additional strain on the worker’s hands, causing discomfort and hand fatigue. A poor fit may push workers to remove their gloves for certain tasks, thereby risking hand injuries and costing your company thousands of dollars in medical costs and downtime.

Put this knowledge to practice now and take a tour of your worksite. Notice whether workers are wearing their safety gloves. If they’re not, find out why. Better yet, get in touch with a company with advanced field survey tools. Some offer tools that allow for a dynamic assessment electronically with a simple walkthrough. Then you can get a customized report of potential issues and savings that can be attained with reduced injuries and downtime. Don’t take workplace safety lightly – even one injury is too many.

Editor's note: This article represents the independent views of the author and should not be construed as a National Safety Council endorsement.

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