Faculty, staff, and students must wear gloves that effectively protect their hands from chemicals that may be absorbed, penetrate, or otherwise damage the skin. Consideration must also be given to abrasions, cuts, punctures, biological agents, blood borne pathogens, and radioactive materials that may also cause a hazard to the wearer. Protective lotions or creams are generally inadequate as an alternative to glove usage. Ultimately, all gloves are permeable and there is no ideal glove for all chemicals. Make sure you have the correct glove for the job by conducting a hazard assessment.
A number of variables need to be evaluated when choosing suitable glove protection. Chemical exposure is the primary cause of hand dermatitis in the workplace. Some points to consider in selecting chemical gloves are:
- Select a glove materials that gives proper protection from the chemical being used.
- Frequency and duration of chemical contact.
- Type of contact (immersion or occasional contact).
- Toxicity or hazard concentration of the chemicals.
- Temperature of chemicals.
- Resistance to abrasion or cutting.
- Resistance to punctures, snags, or tearing.
- Length of arm needing protection (hand only, forearm, whole arm).
- Tactile dexterity and sensitivity needs.
- Grip requirements (dry, wet, oily, soap).
- Thermal protection.
- Gauge (thickness of glove material).
- Swelling of glove material due to chemical contact.
- Glove manufacture's recommendations (chemical resistance guides and physical performance chart).
It is important to note that information presented for an individual chemical may no longer be applicable when a mixture of chemicals are combined. Careful monitoring of the glove for signs of permeation, degradation, or penetration, is needed to maintain the health an safety of the wearer. Gloves must be replaced periodically, depending on frequency of use.
What Type of Glove Should You Wear?
It is impossible to list all the potential situations on campus where gloves are needed. Below is a list of situations where gloves must be used, the recommended gloves, and examples of positions which fall under these situations.
- Chemicals - depend on the variables associated with the required work. Some chemicals require only the minimal amount of protection. Others, such as oily materials, require a glove with a good grip. Examples: researchers, medical professionals, pesticide applicators, food service, mechanics, maintenance, etc.
- Abrasions - leather or cotton gloves are frequently chosen for their ability to offer protection when handling rough objects or grasping hand tools. Examples: maintenance, mechanics, landscape work, farm work, etc.
- Cuts and Lacerations - can be minimized by using metal mesh gloves when working with cutting blades and other sharp objects. Examples: food service, landscape work, metal work, etc.
- Heat - requires a glove that insulates the wearer from heat. A cotton or leather glove may be adequate for handling materials somewhat hotter than body temperature, A vitreous fiber glove, made of fiberglass type material, can be used to handle objects that have been heated to a few hundred degrees. Additional body insulation protection is needed when working with higher temperatures and melted metals. Examples: welders, researchers, mechanics, etc.
- Cold - require many of the same insulating properties as handling hot objects. May require a liquid barrier when handling aqueous ammonia or other liquefied gasses such as liquid nitrogen. Examples - researcher, medical professionals, mechanics, etc.
- Food - requires a covering to prevent the transfer of bacteria or viruses. Examples: researchers, food handlers, etc.
Who Purchases Gloves for My Work?
Each operating unit is expected to fund, procure and initiate use of the proper personal protective equipment. The Department of Environmental Health & Safety, (573) 882-7018, may be contacted to assist each operating unit in determining the correct personal protective equipment to assure a safe work environment.