The coronavirus pandemic now drags through its second year. Thanks to this, businesses and workers alike have been forced to adjust their PPE policies to account for the evolving situation.
Keeping your hands safe at work has always been a priority for some industries. For others, however, this is the first time they’ve ever had to consider PPE or Personal Protective Equipment.
No matter what your industry, it’s important that you are aware of the various types of PPE gloves available to keep your hands safe from harm. With that in mind, let’s discuss the varying types of PPE gloves and their uses below.
Chemical-Resistant PPE Gloves
Chemical-resistant PPE gloves, as the name might suggest, are made from materials that are designed to keep chemicals from coming into contact with the skin. Most who work in janitorial or custodial services use some type of low to mid-grade chemical-resistant PPE. This keeps their bodies safe from the harsh chemicals they use. (If you’ve ever inadvertently spilled bleach on your skin while cleaning at home, you know well how much pain solvents and cleaning chemicals can cause.)
These PPE gloves come in a wide variety of thicknesses, materials, lengths, and cuffs. Each variety is tailor-made to handle specific chemical threats, so make sure you’re getting the right ones for your exposure risks.
Cold-Resistant PPE Gloves
Let’s face it: None of us do our best work when our hands are cold. We lose dexterity and feeling in our fingers, which makes it hard to handle even large objects. Worse, if our fingers get exposed to the cold for too long, we run the risk of frostbite or other permanent damage.
Whether you work in a freezer, outside, or in a warehouse with a cold environment, keeping your hands warm is critical. If you know you’ll be working near or in water too, make sure you get water-resistant PPE gloves. (Also, keep spares on hand in case your initial pair gets damaged.)
Cut-Resistant PPE Gloves
Getting a cut in the workplace can grind everyone’s day to a halt. Depending on the severity of the cut, you might need to receive emergency treatment. Even if the cut isn’t that severe, the area will still need a thorough cleaning to ensure that any bloodborne pathogens don’t get the chance to spread. It’s even worse if you work in the food service industry, as any food the blood gets on or near might need to get thrown away.
You can find gloves resistant to cutting in a variety of materials, from Kevlar to stainless steel mesh. The latter is the PPE of choice for food service workers who regularly cut and dice things for a living, as it’s the easiest to clean and sanitize.
Insulating PPE Gloves
If you work around or near live wires and cables for a living, your job requires some type of insulating PPE equipment for your hands. These gloves get designed to meet OSHA’s exacting standards for employees working within the Minimum Safe Approach Distance, or MSAD, of energized, exposed conductors.
There are six main classes of insulating gloves, with each class designed to withstand certain voltages. You’ll need to ensure that your employer provides you with the class of glove best suited for your needs and job description.
Leather PPE Gloves
Aside from looking cool, leather PPE gloves are designed for general purpose use. They help to protect your hands from moderate levels of heat, sparks, chips, rough objects and blows. This can make them especially useful to welders, who run the risk of exposure to all of these elements in their work.
Welder’s gloves, in particular, have a special gauntlet cuff to cover a worker’s sleeves. This prevents welding materials or spatters from getting trapped against their skin, which could lead to severe injuries.
Heat-Resistant PPE Gloves
Just as no one can do their best work when their hands are cold, they can’t work well when their hands are covered in burns either. One positive is that most general-use gloves provide low to moderate levels of protection from heat. However, for those who work in extreme temperature highs or who work with those temperatures for extended time periods, more specialized materials may be required.
You wouldn’t want to reach in and grab a cookie tray out of the oven with less than adequate protection. So, make sure you check a heat-resistant glove’s functional temperature range before you buy it.
Surgical or Exam PPE Gloves
Now, we reach the type of PPE most useful for healthcare professionals. Surgical or exam gloves have been standard medical office supplies and dental PPE equipment for many years now. The recent coronavirus pandemic only inspired stricter usage and disposal policies surrounding them.
Surgical or exam gloves like the NRG Element Pro Plus II are created as single-use, disposable items. They’re intended to protect the wearer from the bodily fluids of the person they’re examining. Afterward, they enter biohazardous waste to prevent spreading pathogens. These gloves can be made from a variety of materials, including nitrile, latex, neoprene, and butyl.
Latex gloves used to be by far the most common. However, due to rising allergies to the substance, nitrile has taken over its role as the surgical glove of choice. These PPE gloves can also be useful to you in the home if you have bodily fluid cleanup (like from a toddler or dog) to take care of.
Let’s Recap What We’ve Learned
PPE gloves can be found in a variety of materials and thicknesses and used in almost any industry. These gloves are crucial in keeping your hands protected from cuts, burns, cold, electricity, and most importantly, pathogens. Now that you know which types of PPE gloves are best suited to each use, you can ensure that you choose the right type for your next task.
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