Many workers suffer hand injuries on the job because of safety equipment failures. 70% of hand injuries were caused by workers not wearing the correct safety gloves. The average reported hand injury results in six days of lost work hours.
Economics of Hand Safety,
Hand injuries are expensive injuries. In the EU, 31.5% of accidents at work were wounds and superficial injuries, of which many would have been to hands. This was the most common injury. An extended study of work-related hand injuries found that 1/3 of companies reported 10 or more work-related hand injuries a year, 12% of companies reported more than 30 hand injuries a year. The hand was the most commonly injured body part, more than twice as likely to be injured than an arm, shoulder, or wrist. 40% of the hand injuries were cuts or punctures.
The Issue of Safe Gloves.
40% of companies surveyed said that the principle causes of hand injuries were lack of personal safety gloves or cut-resistant gloves. Improper training in the use of safety equipment was cited by 20% of companies. Worn out personal safety equipment was a commonly given reason as well.
Nearly half of companies reported that most employees don’t wear safety gloves, or only wear them when them “sometimes when a dangerous task is performed”. The study cites labour statistics showing that the rate of workplace injuries has dropped some 36 percent between 2003 and 2014, but not hand injuries, which remain an issue.
Study after study demonstrates that wearing safety gloves can prevent hand injuries by as much as 70%. The stubborn persistence of hand injury is clearly due to the fact that workers don’t wear proper protective gloves.
30% of workers report that management does not enforce glove safety procedures.
21% of workers cite the failure of management to educate workers in the use of the gloves.
21% of workers report that safety gloves are not comfortable. Safety gloves are described by workers as uncomfortable, impairing dexterity while working, retaining too much heat, and lacking sufficient grip.
What Kinds of Gloves are Safe?
- Cotton and fabric gloves that can keep hands clean and protect against abrasions. These are not suitable for protection against injury from sharp or rough-edged materials.
- Coated fabric gloves that can provide some protection against come chemicals in moderate concentrations. These can be used in some laboratory work.
- Rubber, plastic or synthetic gloves can be used when cleaning or working with oils, solvents and other chemicals.
- Leather gloves should be used when welding because leather can resist sparks and moderate heat. They can protect against some risk of cuts and abrasions.
- Aluminised gloves are the ones recommended for welding, furnace or foundry work.
- Kevlar gloves are recommended for many industrial applications. They are cut and abrasion resistant and protect against both heat and cold.
- Gloves for specific chemical resistance include butyl rubber gloves (resist acids), latex or rubber gloves (resist water solutions, acids, alkalis, salts, and ketones), Neoprene gloves (resist hydraulic fluids, gasoline, alcohols, and organic acids), Nitrile rubber gloves (resist chlorinated solvents).
Many new safety glove styles combine the protections from leather and Kevlar with wire cores that add puncture protection.
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