By now, you have probably realized that choosing the ideal personal protective equipment (PPE) for your employees is more confusing than it initially appears to be. If you need a second opinion on your team’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compliance, an OSHA defense lawyer can advise you on the best practices for keeping your workers safe and your project citation-free.
In parts one, two, and three of this four-part series, we explored the uses for hand and arm protection, choosing the right protective gloves, and various types of PPE. In this final installment, we will continue to explore the different types of PPE and how to care for your equipment so your project site can avoid costly injuries.
Chemical and Liquid-Resistant Gloves
Natural rubber, butyl, neoprene, nitrile and fluorocarbon (viton), and various types of plastic including polyvinyl chloride (PVC), polyvinyl alcohol, and polyethylene are the ideal materials for chemical and liquid-resistant gloves. Thicker gloves provide better protection against chemicals, but may limit grip strength and dexterity, so it’s important to balance form and function when choosing PPE.
Butyl gloves: synthetic rubber gloves that protect the wearer against chemicals such as peroxide, rocket fuels, corrosive acids, strong bases, alcohols, aldehydes, ketones, esters, and nitro compounds. These gloves are also proficient at resisting oxidation and ozone corrosion. Plus, they maintain their flexibility at low temperatures so the wearer’s movements aren’t restricted. According to OSHA, if you are wearing butyl gloves, you should stay away from aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons and halogenated solvents.
Natural (latex) rubber gloves: comfortable general-purpose gloves that feature impressive tensile strength, elasticity, and temperature resistance. These gloves protect the wearer against water solutions of acids, alkalis, salts, and ketones. Unfortunately, some people have latex allergies, although hypoallergenic alternatives such as liners and powderless gloves exist.
Neoprene gloves: synthetic rubber gloves that offer superior pliability, finger dexterity, and tear resistance. Neoprene gloves protect the wearer against hydraulic fluids, gasoline, alcohols, organic acids, and alkalis. Neoprene is typically stronger than natural rubber when comparing chemical and wear resistance.
Nitrile gloves: composed of copolymer to ensure protection against chlorinated solvents like trichloroethylene and perchloroethylene. Nitrile gloves are great for working with oils, greases, caustics, alcohols, and acids, but they are not recommended for wearers dealing with strong oxidizing agents, ketones, acetates, or aromatic solvents.
Caring for Your PPE
Similar to other pieces of PPE, hand and arm protection should be inspected daily before use. Inspect your PPE for cuts and tears visually or fill them with water to reveal any pinhole leaks. Stiff, discolored gloves are often weakened from chemical exposure and must be evaluated carefully before use. Degraded gloves should be discarded and replaced immediately.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.