Chemical Glove Selection: What You Need to Know!

Chemical Glove Selection is a key safety consideration, especially when working with hazardous substances. Depending on the chemical, it can react with the glove materials in different ways which can result in skin exposure and injury. To ensure proper protection, let’s discuss what you need to know when selecting chemical gloves. 
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) reported that 70.9% of hand injuries could have been prevented with safety gloves. However, 70% percent of workers don’t wear hand protection, and the other 30% aren’t wearing the appropriate gloves for the specific task. 
 Important terms to know  
Permeation rate  
This is the rate at which the chemical will move through the material. It is measured in a laboratory and is expressed in units like milligrams per square meter per second. The higher the permeation rate, the faster the chemical or heat will move through the material.  
Occurs when the chemical leaks through seams, pinholes, and other imperfections in the material: permeation occurs when the chemical diffuses or travels through intact material.  
Breakthrough time  
This is the time it takes for a chemical to permeate entirely through the material. It is determined by applying the chemical or heat on the glove exterior and measuring the time it takes to detect the chemical or heat on the inside surface. The sensitivity of the analytical instruments used in these measurements influences when a chemical is first detected. The breakthrough time indicates the time before the chemical or heat permeates the material. 
Degradation is a measurement of the physical deterioration of the material due to contact with a chemical or heat. The material may get harder, stiffer, or more brittle. The material may get softer and brittle, softer and weaker, or the material may dissolve in the chemical.  
Choosing the right materials 
 Based on the above information, you must carefully choose the appropriate material for each job.  
 Before deciding which kind of glove to use, you should gather and analyze information on several factors, such as:  
1.    A complete and accurate description of the task.  
2.    Identification of all hazards that may require hand protection. This should include a list of the chemicals involved and physical hazards such as abrasion, tearing, puncture and temperature. This kind of hazard will also affect the decision to use other chemical protective clothing in addition to gloves.  
3.    What flexibility and touch sensitivity are needed for the task. The requirement for textured or non-slip surfaces to improve grip must also be considered.  
4.    Type of potential contact (e.g., occasional contact or splash protection, continuous immersion of hands). This will also help in choosing the appropriate length of glove.  
5.    The contact period of which the worker could be in contact with the chemical (and which chemicals) may also influence the selection of type and thickness of the glove material and the choice of lined or unlined gloves.  
6.    Potential effects of skin exposure such as immediate irritation, burns or corrosion of the skin must be considered.  
7.    Decontamination procedures are to be considered in whether the gloves should be disposed of or cleaned after use. If they are cleaned, consider the cleaning method, how often they can be cleaned, and any special procedures required for disposing of the "decontamination wash waste"?  
8.    Training required which may include:  
•    What are the hazards of skin contact with the chemical,  
•    What are the limitations of the gloves,  
•    What could happen and what to do if the gloves fail, and  
•    When to dispose of or decontaminate gloves.  
Suggested materials should be selected based on quantitative information such as permeation rate, breakthrough time, penetration, and degradation. Various factors like the thickness of the material, manufacturing methods, and product quality control can significantly affect properties. 
 Hand protection tips 
 Since there are many hazards, hand protection can be provided in various ways including finger guards, cots and thimbles, hand pads, mitts, and gloves. Keep these tips in mind: 
•    Choose hand protection that adequately protects from a specific job’s hazard(s) and meets the precise tasks involved.  
•    Follow the manufacturer's instructions for care, decontamination, and gloves maintenance. 
•    Be aware that some materials may cause reactions in some workers, such as allergies to latex. Offer alternatives where possible.  
•    Ensure the gloves fit properly.  
•    Ensure gloves cover all exposed skin. Gloves should be long enough to cover between the glove and sleeve.  
•    Do not wear gloves with metal parts near electrical equipment.  
•    Do not use worn or torn gloves.  
•    Clean gloves as instructed by the supplier.  
•    Inspect and test gloves for defects before using them.  
 The selected gloves should be carefully tested in actual job conditions. In some situations, laboratory tests on the gloves may be desirable using the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) methods.  
 Keeping your workers safe from injury and harm is key! If you have questions, please contact the Goal Zero team today.

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