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Administration: Office of Environmental Health & Safety

Hazard Control: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Hand Protection (Gloves)

Engineering Controls - which remove hazards from the worker environment - are the first line of defense against exposure to workplace hazards. The hands are particularly vulnerable to exposure to hazardous materials, hazardous physical agents, cutting- and blunt-force hazards. Engineering controls that protect the hands include machine guarding power tools and self-sheathing needles and sharps-disposal boxes to prevent needlestick injuries. Very few other examples of engineering controls that protect the hands exist. It is often not possible to 100% control exposure to the hands to hazards therefore it is necessary to supplement engineering controls for hand protection with the correct gloves.

There are many different types of gloves available. Gloves are designed and manufactured to protect the hands against specific hazard(s), and the same glove may not protect against other hazards. The specific task(s) and the specific nature of the hazard(s) determine the correct glove for a specific operation. Proper glove selection begins with a thorough identification and assessment of the hazards.

Factors that determine glove selection include: area requiring protection (hand only, forearm, arm), grip requirements (dry, wet, oily) and dexterity, thermal protection, electrical protection, size and comfort, cut and abrasion resistance; type(s) of chemicals handled, quantities, nature of contact (total immersion, splash, vapor exposure), physical state of the chemical(s) (solid, liquid, gas), duration of contact. Different glove materials protect against different families of chemical compounds. In general, the thicker the glove material, the better the glove protects against chemicals.

For protection against exposure to chemicals, review the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) or MSDS for the chemicals that will be used. The SDS will contain information for the type of glove to use. Glove manufacturers are resources for chemical resistance data for various glove materials (links listed below). Please contact the Office of Environmental Health & Safety (x8978, x8988) for assistance in glove selection. Please also see the links listed below for further information.