Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Arm and Hand Protection

Magazine article Occupational Hazards

Arm and Hand Protection

Article excerpt

When hand protection standard ANSI/ISEA 105-1999, jointly developed by the American National Standards Institute and the Industrial Safety Equipment Association, is issued some time this year, specifiers will be able to get a better grip on glove selection.

The standard, currently undergoing public review and comment, aims to eliminate confusion in selecting hand protection in industrial applications by defining characteristics of protection against cuts, puncture-resistance, abrasion, protection from cold and heat, chemical resistance (permeation and degradation), viral penetration, dexterity ratings, liquid-tight integrity and flame- and heat-resistance; and standardizing test methods and classes of hand protection by instituting a standard rating for levels of protection, with zero being the lowest level.

The standard arose from disparities among manufacturers in the way they rate their gloves - as "good", "fair" or "poor" - against certain contaminants and exposures, explains ISEA's Janice Comer Bradley, CSP, technical director of the standard. Gloves from one manufacturer that offer "good" protection against cuts may not offer as much protection as another manufacturer's "good" quality gloves. ANSI/ISEA 1051999 covers glove selection criteria related to testing and performance properties in chemical and industrial applications. Many multinational companies currently use the CE compliance categories that are comprehensive standards for glove performance, classification and marking of product. This ensures compliance with government standards in European plants, but can be applied easily for corporate operations in the U.S. Efforts are under way to distill the best of both ISEA and CE standards, working toward a single ISO-based global hand protection standard. William Eleazer, a development engineer with North Safety Products (and Bradley's co-chair on the standard committee) explains, "We think [the draft standard] will give users more information and a performance standard for judging product performance and selecting the proper glove for the application."

Until ANSI/ISEA 105-1999 is available, specifiers still have some resources to assist in glove selection. A good place to start is the current OSHA standard, suggests Logan Boss, director of marketing at Marigold Industrial. "Here in the United States, employers have to adhere to the general requirements of the OSHA 29 CFR1910.132 PPE standard specifically for gloves, section 38. It requires them to base selection of hand protection on an evaluation or risk assessment of the task being performed, the duration and the hazards present, and have written documentation."

The next step is to evaluate manufacturers' published data about how their gloves will perform in specific chemical combinations and physical hazards. Armed with that data, the industrial hygienist or safety director determines the best gloves for the applications based on actual user- or application-specific requirements.

It is possible to over- or under-protect users with the wrong gloves, according to Boss.

"Often people err on the side of over-gloving because they have read manufacturers' data that, for example, a particular chemical-resistant glove has a certain breakthrough time. …

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