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Gloves: Choosing the right gloves to protect skin

Protecting against substances in the workplace

The most effective and reliable way to prevent skin problems is to design and operate processes to avoid contact with harmful substances.  So take all the steps you can to achieve this before resorting to the use of protective gloves. Gloves differ in design, material and thickness. No glove material will protect against all substances and no gloves will protect against a specific substance forever.

Protective gloves tend to be less effective than other control measures but if avoiding contact is impractical or is not enough to protect employees then gloves may be needed. When you select protective gloves, base your choice on the work, the wearer and the environment they work in.

Identify the substances handled

Water/'wet work'

Substances in products and created by work processes

Orange hazard label - irritant Orange hazard label - corrosive

Sign of liquid in a container with question mark Sign of substance in container with wavy lines above

Identify all other hazards for hands

Identify any other hazards present. For example, is there a risk of, abrasion, cuts, puncture or high temperature? There are chemical protective gloves that also give protection against mechanical hazards (those marked EN388) and thermal hazards (those marked EN407).

Consider the type and duration of contact

Consider the user - size and comfort

Consider the task

Gloves should not hamper the task. If wet/oily objects are handled, choose gloves with a roughened/textured surface for good grip. Select gloves that balance protection with dexterity.

Latex Gloves

What you need to do

Once you have selected your gloves tell your employees how to use them properly to protect themselves. Tell them when they should be replaced, and if they are reusable gloves ask them to rinse them before removal (if practical) and tell them how they should be stored. Review their use periodically and get employee feedback, this can help check that the gloves are performing properly.

Updated 2021-02-03