Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Get the 'FAQs' about Hand Protection and Aprons

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Get the 'FAQs' about Hand Protection and Aprons

Article excerpt

Workers and managers often pose questions about hand protection and safety apparel products, their applications and limitations. Below are some commonly asked questions and answers:

Q: We have applications that involve handling small, hot parts. Workers need heat protection, yet they require dexterity. What type of glove do you recommend?

A: Unfortunately, these requirements are in direct conflict. The best insulator is air that is not moving. Materials used for thermal insulation--from wool in clothing to fiber-glass in the walls of a house--typically are just different ways of trapping air in small pockets so it cannot move. To protect workers from contact with hot parts, gloves must contain a thick layer of small air pockets. But for dexterity, gloves must be thin, which is a direct conflict. The gloves selected for this type of application should, therefore, represent a compromise by providing heat protection and dexterity. Gloves are available that are made with a special type of yarn that can insulate and still provide some dexterity. The fibers of this special yarn contain tiny air pockets. If parts handled are very hot, an aramid layer may be needed to resist thermal degradation. Because cotton and wool are effective in trapping air in small pockets and wicking sweat away from the skin, cotton or wool may be preferable for the inner layers.

Q: What gloves do you recommend for handling lacquer thinner?

A: Lacquer thinner, which is a popular cleaning agent in many manufacturing facilities, typically contains several key ingredients, as listed below. Although additional ingredients may be present, they will likely fall into these categories.

* A ketone such as acetone or MEK, which will degrade nitrile, PVC and Viton;

* An alcohol such as methanol or isopropanol, which will degrade PVA;

* An aromatic solvent such as toluene or xylene, which will degrade neoprene, PVC, natural rubber and butyl.

Lacquer thinner may require the most highly protective chemical barrier available since the ingredients in this common solvent mixture work together synergistically to degrade the materials in most gloves offered today. Laminated film gloves are available that do not degrade in typical lacquer thinners; some of these gloves have breakthrough times greater than two hours. Although laminated film gloves provide superior chemical resistance, they are very thin and may experience cuts or punctures. They also lack a textured surface for gripping. Depending upon the application, the best solution may be to wear a pair of laminated film gloves as a liner under another style of glove that provides the cut protection and grip required. Fabric-lined neoprene and nitrile gloves and heavy-duty unlined nitrile gloves may be suitable. Disposable thin nitrile gloves may be used if splashes are occasional and random. Nitrile gloves without liners may provide adequate protection if the ketone content of the lacquer thinner is relatively low or if the extent of exposure is minimal.

Q: Some of our employees have problems with "allergies" to vinyl disposable gloves. What is the cause of these problems?

A: Allergic reactions to vinyl gloves are almost nonexistent. The problem is often contact urticaria or simple skin irritation caused by perspiration and lack of ventilation inside the glove. Leakage is another possibility. Although thin vinyl gloves exhibit chemical resistance when tested in the laboratory, reports indicate that when the gloves are donned and worn for about an hour, they will begin to leak. …

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