How to Get Your Hands on the Right Safety Gloves

Hands are the most used tools in the workplace, making their protection from on-the-job hazards critically important to maintaining employee productivity. Hand dangers are around every corner. Depending on the workplace, employees’ hands are endangered from chemicals, abrasive surfaces, splinters, broken glass, and cuts or scrapes, among countless other hazards.

According to the US Department of Labor, injuries to hands accounted for nearly 25 percent of all lost-time industrial injuries — a total of 110,000 annually. Seventy percent of those injuries resulted when an employee was not wearing safety gloves, while the other 30 percent of hand injuries occurred while an employee was wearing the wrong kind of gloves.

Hand injuries are preventable. Safety gloves, correctly sized and engineered with the right materials, will help defend workers from virtually any type of hazard. Unfortunately, employees often have a very limited understanding of how to select a glove properly based on the dangers they confront. The number of glove choices is vast—and the standards governing personal protective equipment, including hand protection—are not always easy to decipher.

Protective gloves, like any safety product, must be selected properly for the specific application. To do so, first conduct a risk assessment by determining the scope of the work, and next, identifying any potential hazards within that scope that may injure employees’ hands. If it is possible to eliminate the identified hazard by engineering or substitution, this is always the best means to protect the employee. If not, gloves should be used only as a last resort, along with other required PPE. Protective gloves tend to be less effective than other control measures but if avoiding contact is impractical or is not enough to protect employees then gloves are needed.

Recognize that an employee may be exposed to more than one hazard. For instance, the jobsite may contain corrosive chemicals or biological exposure, as well as sharp metals, or broken glass. If you are not sure of the hazard or hazards, confer with an Environmental Health & Safety (EHS) coordinator or industrial hygienist. Once gloves are selected, inform employees how to use them properly to protect themselves. Let them know when gloves should be replaced. If the gloves are reusable ask employees to rinse them before removal and tell them how they should be stored.

CHEMICAL-PROOF GLOVES
A principle function of skin is to protect our bodies from exposure to potentially harmful components of the external environment. Skin does this remarkably well, but direct contact with chemicals poses a danger to the skin itself. Chemical reactions to skin can be a burn, dermatitis or chapping. Chemicals can also penetrate the skin and enter the bloodstream. Risk varies according to the chemical, its concentration, and time of contact among other safety factors. Refer to the product SDS for specifics. Section 8 of the SDS provides what types of PPE are necessary to protect the user. Section 11 has toxicological information such as potential local skin effects, as well as potential absorption through the skin and resultant acute and chronic effects.

Because different glove materials resist different chemicals, no one glove is suited for all chemical exposures. Dependant on the chemical, gloves can be fabricated with natural rubber, neoprene, nitrile rubber, butyl rubber, polyvinyl chloride, polyvinyl alcohol, Saranex™, Tychem®, Trellchem®. Key factors to review in selecting the material are breakthrough time, degradation and permeation rate. Refer to the glove manufacturer’s test data for details.

OSHA 29 CFR 1910.138 (Hand Protection General Requirements) specifically addresses the need for hand protection or chemical protective gloves. This standard makes it mandatory to assess the job for chemical exposures, and then select the appropriate, chemical protective glove based on material, thickness, length and other traits. ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 is another source of information that provides a consistent, numeric-scale method for manufacturers to rate their gloves against certain contaminants and exposures.

CUT-RESISTANT GLOVES

Tear, puncture, and cut-resistant gloves are often constructed from materials such as high-grade stainless steel Kevlar®, and may feature a mesh aesthetic. Resistant to damage from sharp or abrasive objects such as glass and knives, these gloves are often ergonomically designed for a precise fit.

There are two major global standards used to evaluate the protection levels of work gloves: ANSI/ISEA 105 (U.S. Standard) and EN 388 (EU Standard). Besides Europe, EN 388 is also commonly cited in other parts of the world such as Canada, AUS/NZ and South America. In 2015-2016, significant changes were made to both to ensure consistency between different standards and to reduce the gaps between protection levels. The new ANSI/ISEA 105 scale, characterized by an ‘A’ in front of level numbers from A1 to A9, measures a glove’s performance by the cutting force it can withstand in grams. For instance, an A1 glove can withstand from 200-499 grams of cutting force, while an A9 glove can withstand 6000+ grams of cutting force. When looking at glove specifications, the ANSI cut level will be displayed inside a badge that resembles a shield.

Cut-resistant sleeves, often worn with cut-resistant gloves, extend protection from the wrist up towards the elbow or shoulder.

THERMAL-PROOF GLOVES
Thermal proof gloves protect against extreme temperatures and are fabricated from a variety of materials, including:

Neoprene: Neoprene gloves are used for protection against frost and burn injuries, as in the case of firefighting gloves.

Aluminized Material: Aluminized material is capable of handling and withstanding extremely high temperatures (depending on the specific formula, up to and exceeding 2,000° F). Gloves made of this material are suitable for welding, furnace and foundry, and some laboratory applications.

When choosing the heat-resistant gloves for a task, you’ll need to find out the precise temperature of the object, not just the ambient temperature. For example, an industrial oven might be 1000°F but the object being handled is only 600°F. Also, high temperature gloves are available as either gloves or mitts. Gloves are for applications that require dexterity, while mitts are for applications that require additional insulation for heat protection, added comfort, and longer wear. Heat-resistant gloves should be tested to ASTM F1060-87 (also know as C.H.A.R.) that establishes the maximum temperature at which a person can hold an object for more than four seconds before feeling pain, and for more than 15 seconds before getting a second-degree burn.

On the other end of the temperature spectrum, cold-resistant gloves, commonly known as freezer gloves, protect employee hands from cuts and scrapes, while an inner insulation reduces the risk of frostbite. These gloves do not have the thickness or the high level of insulation associated with a ski type glove since that bulkiness would inhibit grip and dexterity when handling frozen foods. Polyethylene, glass fiber, polyester, and spandex are all used in the construction of cold storage thermal gloves. Water wicking on the glove’s base layer moves moisture away from the skin, helping to keep hands dryer and warmer for a longer period of time.

GLOVES AND MACHINERY
Machinists who are operating rotating machines should not wear gloves. If machinists are working with a CNC machine, a lathe, a knee mill, or a drill press, wearing gloves near a rotating spindle can spell disaster. Machinery must have guards installed or incorporated into their design that prevent hands from contacting the point of operation or other moving parts.

For more information on choosing the right PPE for machinists, please check out this blog.

GLOVE MAINTENANCE
Like any tool, gloves must be treated properly for them to perform their function. Protective gloves should be inspected before each use to ensure that they are not torn, punctured or made ineffective in any way. A visual inspection will help detect cuts or tears but a more thorough inspection by filling the gloves with water and tightly rolling the cuff towards the fingers will help reveal any pinhole leaks. Gloves that are discolored or stiff may also indicate deficiencies caused by excessive use or degradation from chemical exposure.

Wearing the right safety gloves is instrumental in preventing different workplace hand injuries, including cuts, punctures, burns, or abrasion injuries. It also saves costs incurred by the company each time a hand injury occurs, such as medical expenses that average $6,000 and lost-time compensation expenses that average $7,500. Hand injuries send more than one million workers to the emergency room each year. Your employees cannot afford to go barehanded or be wearing the wrong gloves, not when the cost of one preventable incident far exceeds the cost of an entire hand protection program.

Machine Risk Assessment vs. Safeguarding Assessment? Start 2020 off on the right safety foot.

When it comes to accidents, manufacturing ranks second highest of all industries. That comes despite OSHA regulations and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards. A key culprit is unguarded hazardous machinery.

Year after year, OSHA issues thousands of citations and levies millions of dollars in fines for machine safeguarding violations in an attempt to prevent injuries and save lives OSHA 1910.212(a)(1) is the most common section citation, whereby “one or more methods of machine guarding shall be provided to protect the operator and other employees in the machine area from hazards” followed by OSHA 1910.212(a)(3)(ii) whereby “the point of operation of machines whose operation exposes an employee to injury shall be guarded.

Why the disregard?

Why is this so? Often facility safety managers are lulled into a false sense of security because a serious accident has not yet occurred or because accidents are rare in their facility. Other managers might wrongly suppose that their newly purchased machinery arrives fully compliant, not realizing that OEMs are typically concerned with new machinery price competitiveness, not necessarily guarding compliance. Still other managers may wrongly assume that older machines are “grandfathered in” before OSHA was formed.

For whatever reason, approximately HALF of industrial machinery has not been properly safeguarded.

That is the bad news.

The good news is there is a way to determine compliance through an assessment of the machinery on the plant floor, as outlined by ANSI B11.0. There are two types of assessments that reign supreme: the Risk Assessment and the Safeguarding Assessment. This article will address both methods and how they help an organization better protect the people operating the machines and reduce the risk at the facility.

Risk assessments should be conducted annually, including whenever a new machine is installed or a major change to an existing machine or production line has taken place. Additionally, in an ideal world, a pre- and post-assessment would be done to verify that the hazards identified in the assessment were properly mitigated.

Risk assessment

What a risk assessment is comprised of is outlined in ANSI B11 Series Standards for Industrial Machinery, ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 Safety Standards for Industrial Robots, and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 79-2015 Electrical Standard for Industrial Machinery.

The overarching goal of a task-based risk assessment is to identify hazards associated with machinery or robots. This requires an on-site visit by a risk assessment professional who audits and assigns each machine a risk rating based on three considerations: Severity of Injury, Exposure Frequency, and Avoidance Likelihood, which produces a Risk Level. Today’s risk assessment specialists use software-based tools that can make the process quicker than working through a pen-and-paper risk assessment form.

In advance of the facility visit and based upon project scope, the risk assessment specialist will need to review a comprehensive machine list and potentially other documentation such as: corporate safety standards, lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures, electrical and mechanical drawings, floor-plan layout and equipment manuals.

The scope of assessing a piece of machinery for risk begins with reviewing its operational states with functionality tests performed to help identify potential hazards during machine start-up, cycle, and stopping. The risk assessment specialist may perform a Stop-Time Measurement (STM) test to determine the machine’s reaction time after receiving a stop signal to ensure proper safety distance of safeguarding devices. The specialist will also establish if a passerby or other employees in the area could be hurt if an incident occurs, in addition to the operator.

Along with assessing the production risks of the machine, the risk assessment specialist must analyze the tasks performed by the machine operator as they relate to interacting with the machine, loading and unloading materials, planned and unplanned maintenance methods, frequency of tool changes, and general housekeeping.

During the risk assessment, the specialist will photograph machines and generate a final hazard report documenting their assessment findings and risk levels. The hazardous findings of each machine are broken down into the following ranked classifications:

Critical: There is an imminent life-threatening or dismemberment hazard and immediate action is needed to reduce risk and improve operator safety
Mandatory: There is an imminent hazard that creates potential for injury and action is required to reduce risk, improve operator safety and to comply with OSHA/ANSI standards
Compliant: There is not a recognized hazard that creates potential for injury and no action is required.

Safeguarding assessment

While a risk assessment helps to identify a problem, it does not provide specific safety solutions nor cost estimates. For that, a safeguarding assessment is needed.

During the safeguarding assessment, a specialist will visit the site and conduct an intensive audit of each machine and identify compliance in five guarding areas: safeguards, controls, disconnects, starters and covers. The safeguarding specialist may request copies of electrical, pneumatic or hydraulic schematics, operator manuals and ask for control panel access so that engineers can review the control circuit for electrical compatibility of any proposed safeguarding solutions and to verify reliability of the control circuit to determine the interfacing requirements of suggested equipment. Then the safeguarding specialist will focus on risk reduction using this basic methodology:

– Eliminate Access — A good safeguarding system eliminates the possibility of the operator or other workers placing parts of their bodies near hazardous moving parts.
Reduction in Exposure — A machine safeguard should not be able to be removed, bypassed or tampered with by the operator. To minimize risk exposure, all guards and devices must be securely mounted at the point-of-operation and durable enough to withstand industrial environments, vandalism and heavy usage.
– Create No New Hazards — A safeguard defeats its own purpose if it creates a hazard of its own such as a shear point, a jagged edge, or an unfinished surface which can cause a laceration. The edges of guards, for instance, should be rolled or bolted in such a way that they eliminate sharp edges.
– Create No Interference — Any safeguard which impedes a worker from performing a job quickly and comfortably might soon be overridden or disregarded. Proper safeguarding can actually enhance efficiency since it can relieve the worker’s apprehensions about injury.
– Allow Safe Lubrication — Locating oil reservoirs outside the guard, with a line leading to the lubrication point, will reduce the need for the worker to enter the hazardous area.
Administrative Controls — Without administrative oversight and supervisory control, a machine safeguarding program will fail. Training is key to establishing a safety culture. Operators need to trained to follow the Standard Operating Procedures provided by the machine manufacturer in order to reduce hazards and related risks.

Uncovering gaps in protection

Unlike a risk assessment, a safeguarding assessment recognizes both the problem and the solution. A final compliance report and safeguarding project proposal is issued to facility management which identifies deficiencies or gaps where each machine is not in compliance with current or specified regulations and standards. When not in compliance, the proposal offers standard and customized safeguarding solutions, along with associated costs and timelines to help bring machines into compliance and reduce risk. Each proposed solution is carefully weighed against factors such as risk-reduction benefit, productivity, technological feasibility, economic impact, and maintainability.

In this way, a machine safeguarding assessment follows the OSHA/ANSI approach to controlling machine hazards: eliminate the hazard by design; or control the hazard by guarding, posted warnings, personal protective equipment, and employee training.

Risk reduction strategies

When evaluating risk reduction solutions to address identified hazards, consider each machine and its unique risks. Three basic methods are available.
– Eliminating or reducing risks to a “tolerable” level by installing a new, inherently safe machine. Please note that what constitutes “tolerable” to one company is not necessarily tolerable to another.
– Installing the necessary safeguarding equipment on an existing machine to minimize risks that cannot be eliminated. Fixed enclosing guards, protective devices such as light curtains, palm buttons or presence sensing mats, and training on the safe working methods of the machine are all necessary to reduce injury risks.
– Changing the production process to eliminate the hazard. Perhaps the operator performs actions that increase his exposure to serious hazards? Or recent changes upstream have created a more dangerous environment? Even a small change in procedures can make for a safer, more efficient operation.

Conclusion

Both risk assessments and/or the safeguarding assessments are critical first steps in any machine or robot safeguarding project as outlined in ANSI B11 Series Standards for Metalworking, OSHA 1910.212 General Requirements, ANSI/RIA R15.06-2012 Safety Standards for Industrial Robots and NFPA 79. These standards pave the way for risk-reduction measures that are both effective and economical. Machine risk assessments provide a comprehensive hazard analysis with a risk ranking; machine safeguarding assessments identify safeguarding solutions and provide cost estimates for implementation. Which one is right for an organization depends upon the specific needs of the organization, the organization’s objectives, desired outputs and risk levels.

Related Blogs:

Machine Risk Assessment Process

Machine Safeguarding Assessment

Machine Risk Assessment

Machine Risk Assessment – Inquiry Confirmation

Remote Safeguarding Assessment