Do you have the responsibility for assessing and selecting appropriate PPE for your fellow workers in your plant or jobsites? When it comes to selecting the correct type of chemical glove, all too often the MSDS does not list a specific type of glove and many safety professionals rely on the glove supplier to offer suggestions to you. However, you will need to have some knowledge of what should be selected yourself. You will be able to justify the cost when you calculate expenses for your upcoming budget.
It goes without saying that selecting gloves should be done after you have made your best efforts to engineer the problem out and may have also included administrative efforts to limit the exposure time of the workers. You want to demonstrate that the gloves are the last line of defense.
Get familiar with terminology that is used regarding chemical compatibility, such as: permeation rate and penetration; breakthrough time and degradation. When you speak to your glove supplier, keep these things in mind:
When it comes to chemical glove choices, there is no “one glove fits all” so to speak. There are many types of chemical resistant gloves: Natural Rubber, Neoprene, Hypalon – Neoprene, Butyl, Nitrile, Viton®, PVC, PVA™, Pylox®, and Silver Shield® to name a few. Some gloves offer better resistance to chemicals than others, so check with you suppliers and keep up-to-date with the types of glove offerings that are available. Also, think about other worker’s needs such as, gripping ability and cut resistance.
With all of the chemicals out there, glove manufacturers are always looking for glove materials that offer the best resistance protection. Comfort and flexibility are also considerations that glove manufacturers are providing. It is important for you to make surethat the glove you choose is best suited for the jobBEFOREyou or your co-worker places his/her hands in and around the chemicals they work with!
The following is taken from Lab Safety’s eFacts for Chemical Protective Gloves – Document no. 191:
ANSI/ISEA 105-2005, American National Standard for Hand Protection Selection Criteria, provides a consistent, numeric-scale method for manufacturers to rate their products against certain contaminants and exposures. With classifications based on this scale, users can make better-informed decisions about which gloves are best suited for their application.
Glove performance and pass/fail criteria are included for cut, puncture and abrasion resistance; chemical permeation and degradation; detection of holes; heat and flame resistance; and vibration reduction and dexterity.
The standard also includes a recommended hand protection selection procedure, and reference information on special considerations such as biological protection, extreme temperature applications, cleanroom applications, hazardous materials response applications, electrical protection and radiation hazards. A section on human factors describes how fit, function and comfort are incorporated into glove selection.
Other choices you must make in selecting chemical protective gloves include thickness and length. Thicker gauge gloves are heavier and have better chemical resistance than thinner gauge gloves. Thinner, lighter gloves offer better touch sensitivity and flexibility, chemical resistance is sacrificed. Glove manufacturers generally state that doubling the thickness of a glove quadruples the breakthrough time of the chemical.
Glove thickness is stated in either mils or gauge. A 10-gauge glove equals 10 mils, or 0.010 inches. When choosing your glove, look for the stated thickness on the manufacturer’s test data.
When assessing the job, also take into account the length of glove needed. Extra splash or immersion protection is provided by gloves longer than 14 inches. For deep tank cleaning or glove box applications, gloves can be as long as 31 inches. Generally longer gloves are made with thicker materials.
Finishes and Linings
Gloves also have a variety of finishes and linings. Textured finishes are applied to gloves to give a better grip. Flock and knit linings are offered on many styles of gloves. Cotton flock linings are applied for basic perspiration absorption. Knit linings do this too, as well as offering a small amount of temperature protection.
Inspection and Care
Even the best chemically resistant glove will break down after repeated chemical exposures. Before each use gloves must be inspected for signs of chemical degradation such as swelling, cracking, shrinking or discoloration of the material. If detected, it means the glove material has undergone a physical change due to chemical contact and will no longer provide chemical protection. Also during inspection, look for any signs of holes or punctures and remove the gloves from service if any are found. For complete care and maintenance instructions, refer to the glove manufacturer’s information.