Using the Proper Glove for the Job
Most tasks in your day-to-day life involve your hands and fingers. And if you work with cutting tools, punching machines, molten metal, chemicals, splintering wood, and other rough materials, you risk a disabling hand injury if you don't wear the right glove.
One study found that 70 percent of people who injured their hands at work weren't wearing gloves, and the rest were wearing gloves that were damaged, inadequate or wrong for the task.
For your safety, take a quick review of common glove types and uses:
Cotton and fabric-blend gloves are helpful for working with dirt or with splintery or slippery objects.
Pluses: low cost; moderate protection against abrasion, chafing, heat and cold.
Minuses: short lifetime, limited cut protection.
Metal mesh gloves and gloves made of new fibers such as Kevlar, Spectra and Vectran help prevent cuts and abrasions from sharp objects.
Pluses: Lightweight, heat and cold resistant, flexible.
Minuses: can be expensive.
Leather gloves are used when working with rough surfaces or welding applications, or for working with electricity when combined with an insulated liner.
Pluses: puncture and abrasion resistant; absorbs impact, protects against sparks, provides moderate heat resistance.
Minuses: limited dexterity and cut resistance.
"Rubber" gloves—made either of natural rubber or of other materials such as neoprene, poly vinyl alcohol or vinyl—offer protection against caustics, acids and other chemicals. Latex gloves now have alternatives such as nitrile (more resistant to chemicals and solvents and don’t produce latex allergy) and vinyl.
Pluses: liquid resistant.
Minuses: limited cut resistance; can be used safely only for a limited time before chemicals can permeate.
Other, more specialized gloves include lead-lined gloves, to protect against radiation hazards; and aluminized gloves, designed to reflect and insulate against intense heat when welding and doing furnace and foundry applications.
Make wise choices
Your choice of glove depends on the job you are doing. For instance, if you are working with chemicals, carefully select the type of liquid-resistant glove used with chemicals, since some types protect better against certain substances. Check the chemical's container or its material safety data sheet (MSDS) to determine which glove is recommended. You also can consult chemical compatibility charts found in laboratory safety supply catalogs, such as Fisher Scientific and Lab Safety Supply.
Never wear gloves around powered rotating equipment, such as lathes, drills or grinders.
Wear well-fitting gloves. Overly loose gloves can get caught in equipment or limit dexterity, making them more of a hazard than a protection.
Inspect gloves before use for holes, cracks or tears.
After working with chemicals and before removing gloves, rinse your gloved hands under running water to remove any residue.
Replace worn or torn gloves, or any chemical-specified gloves that have outlived their indicated life expectancy.
Online Medical Reviewers:
Cranwell-Bruce, Lisa MS, RN, FNP-C
Godsey, Cynthia M.S., M.S.N., APRN
Lambert, J.G. M.D.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care.
Always follow your healthcare provider's instructions.