Hand Protection

Hand Protection

Almost all jobs require use of the hands.  Driving, typing, building, and even reading a book involves the hands.  Hands are often the most exposed body part.  Drilling industry accident statistics show that the hands and fingers are the most often injured part of the body.  Threats to the hands include: caught between and struck by, chemicals, vibration, heat, cuts, bruises, breaks, burns, punctures, amputations, cold, and infectious or biological agents.  If left unprotected, the hands offer a significant route of entry to the body because they can have such extensive and direct contact with hazardous agents.

Precautions:  Hazards should be reviewed to determine if implementing engineering and administrative controls can eliminate them.  When these two options are not sufficient or feasible, personal protective equipment (PPE) may be used instead.  After thoroughly analyzing the workplace for hazardous exposures and determining the need for PPE, a PPE program should be established that includes:

  1. Hazard analysis and why PPE is the best control measure
  2. How it is selected, maintained and its use evaluated
  3. Training of employees
  4. Program review for effectiveness in preventing employee injury or illness

Gloves are available that protect hands against skin absorption of harmful substances such as: cuts, abrasions, punctures, chemical burns, thermal burns and temperature extremes.  Special multi-layered gloves can protect against several chemicals because they are made of individual layers of different materials that are resistant to different chemicals.  Chemical-resistant gloves can be worn over cut-resistant gloves.  Leather gloves can be worn over chemical-resistant glove liners.  Cotton glove liners can be worn under impervious gloves to absorb sweat and increase comfort in hot environments or to insulate the hands in cold environments.

Depending on the hazard, hands can be shielded by one or more of the following:

  1. Cotton work gloves for general rig use
  2. Dielectric rubber gloves for electrical hazards (must be tested regularly for dielectric strength)
  3. Leather gloves for sparks, heat, chips, and handling rough objects
  4. Welding gloves for welding and foundry gloves for foundry work
  5. Heat-resistant gloves for burn protection
  6. Metal mesh gloves for cut protection
  7. Water resistant gloves for wet environments
  8. Impervious materials such as rubber, neoprene, nitrile, PVC and vinyl gloves to handle chemicals or infectious agents (always check to determine which polymer is most resistant to the specific chemicals handled)

Gloves need to provide enough dexterity to perform work safely and efficiently.  Some glove materials stiffen in cold weather and can hinder dexterity.  Where great dexterity is not required and workers need both chemical and cut protection, supported polymer gloves may be the best choice since they are comfortable and durable.  Supported polymer gloves have a cotton liner reinforcing an outer polymer lattice.

Gloves that are too big can make hazards worse by increasing the likelihood that the wearer will get caught on something, drop something or work slowly or unsuccessfully.  Finally, the grip should be considered when selecting gloves.