When is it Time to Replace Your Work Gloves?

By: Rick Pedley, Contributor

[Editors note: The following main article is from Workplace Material Handling & Safety’s February 2022 issue.]

All gloves will eventually need to be replaced, especially if you’re wearing them all the time. In general, they shouldn’t be wearing out daily, but getting a few weeks out of a regularly used pair of gloves is considered a pretty good life.

The length of time a glove lasts depends on several factors, including the type of glove it is; the work you’re doing while wearing it; how often and how long you’re doing that work; and how well you take care of your gear. This also makes it very subjective—you might use your gloves faster than your coworkers because of differences in how you work. So, consider these factors when you suspect it might be time to replace your work gloves.

The length of time a glove lasts depends on the type of glove; the work you’re doing while wearing it; how often and how long you’re doing that work; and how well you take care of your gear. (photo courtesy PK Safety)

Know What Durability Means for You

When workers and manufacturers use the word “durability,” they generally mean “longevity,” which is just another way of saying how long a worker can wear the glove before it’s considered “worn out” and no longer able to do its job. Unfortunately, this is a difficult quality to measure, because there aren’t objective tests or standards. And often, the wear life is determined by the job for which the glove is used. When you’re looking at gloves to wear, look at measurable performance qualities like cut protection or resistance to chemicals and abrasion.

Brush Up on Your Safety Skills

Workers should be trained on all aspects of their job; this includes equipment. There should be training for glove features, job applications, the impact of proper gear, how to identify wear and damage, and recognizing when PPE is no longer able to do its job. This training will become even more crucial as the years go on and manufacturers develop new fabrics, technologies and methods that can help increase product durability and functionality.

Organized training through a workplace will make workers more likely to understand and therefore use work gloves, which lowers risk. Make training a continuous process for new and veteran employees alike to keep everyone’s skills fresh.

Look for Signs of Wear and Tear

While you may get away with holey or over-used gloves when doing basic house chores or DIY projects, job sites may hold gear to higher standards to best protect its workers. Generally, there are visual signs of when gloves have reached the point of being worn out. Look for color variations in the coating and liner, for instance. Some workers will throw out a pair of gloves when the coating wears through, and some when the glove itself is full of holes or the surface is completely abraded off—use your best judgment. It can only take a moment for a workplace accident to happen, so spend a few extra moments at the start of each shift to ensure that you’re ready to go.

photo courtesy PK Safety

Proper Care and Keeping

While all gloves will eventually wear out and need to be removed from service, you can prolong the life of your gloves with proper care and maintenance. Make inspecting them for damage a regular part of your workday routine—especially if they’ve encountered a lot of abuse. Look specifically for breaks in the glove where skin is left vulnerable to temperatures, cuts, punctures, chemicals and other hazards.

Make sure to follow the manufacturer’s laundering directions as well. Launder the gloves as often as recommended and according to their directions, especially if they’re flame-resistant and need to be clean to be safe. And really, you should be washing your gloves anyway—you wouldn’t wear other clothes over and over without ever washing them, so why would gloves be any different?

Sometimes It’s Necessary to Toss

Just like some gloves are designed to last for a long time, others are designed to be used once before being thrown out. If you’re using disposable gloves, it’s for a reason—specifically, that proper disposal of the glove and what it came in contact with is safer than reusing it. Medical, food service and janitorial work make use of disposable gloves. Sanitizing these gloves would be too intense of a process for the materials to handle, so they’re disposed of after use, regardless of whether they’re worn out or damaged.

If it’s almost time to replace your gloves, choose a company of safety experts you can trust. Your hands are one of your most valuable tools, so make them a priority and keep them protected.

About the Author:

Rick Pedley is CEO of PK Safety, a company that has been helping people stay safe in the workplace for more than 70 years. For information about PK Safety’s safety gloves, gas detection devices, fall protection, respirators, confined space equipment and more, visit www.pksafety.com.

Chemical Risks in Hand Protection

By: Barbara Nessinger, Editor-in-Chief

Selecting the right chemical resistant glove for the job is complicated. Employees where chemicals are manufactured are obviously at risk for hand injuries due to chemical exposure. Other industries are also high-risk for such hazards (i.e., mining, painting, construction, welding, etc.).

How do workers unintentionally expose themselves to harmful solutions? The main issue is training: Making sure employees receive proper training and certifications is paramount to a safe work environment, especially where harmful chemicals are in use.

Permeation vs. Penetration

What is chemical permeation, and how can it be combatted in industries where chemical exposure is a risk? We recently asked Gil Leverne, Director, Marketing, at SHOWA International, this question.

“Individual molecules of the chemical enter the film and squirm through by passing between the molecules of the glove compound or film. This is combatted by wearing the proper hand protection within the regulated time of exposure to chemicals,” Leverne stated.

Another factor to consider when seeking protection from chemicals is penetration. While permeation is described as something moving through a substance by diffusion or going through the pores of it by being spread onto it, penetration of something is when a chemical finds its way into the pores and imperfections of the material.

Marked for Protection

You can identify a glove’s chemical protection performance by looking at the type at the top of the pictogram, [right], and the letters underneath it. The type will tell you how many of the 18 chemicals listed in the table were tested with the glove to check its performance, as well as the expected minimal length of the protection against these chemicals. The letter code denotes the tested chemicals within the EN 374 standard.

[To watch an exclusive interview with SHOWA’s Leverne, go to: https://industrial
hygienepub.com/tl-showa
.]

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