Choosing the right gloves to protect skin: a guide for employers

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.

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. You need to consider the following five factors:

 Identify the substances handled

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.

Water/'wet work'

Substances in products, created by work processes and 'natural' substances

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

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.

Examples

See also: Removing gloves

You can download this memory aid, complete it and hand it to your glove supplier

 
Updated 2021-05-04