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Make sure your employees are in safe hands

20 May 2013

Polyco provides tips to help construction workers select the correct hand protection

Over the last 20 years, the construction industry has seen a significant reduction in the number of injuries to its workers. However, it still remains a high risk industry and accounts for 27% of all fatal workplace injuries throughout the UK. The most commonly reported injuries across all industries occur as a result of handling hazardous products or sharp/coarse materials.

Construction workers can come into contact with a variety of different hazards during their working day and if unprotected, these hazards can result in cuts and punctures to their hands from sharp or coarse material. Hand protection may not be top of the list of priorities when considering Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and although hand injuries are not usually fatal, they can still result in seriously affecting a worker’s way of life and ability to work.  And ultimately, cost the employer in down time or worse, a costly insurance claim. 

Hand protection is a vital form of PPE and if the hand protection used or issued is not fit for purpose or made from sub standard materials, then the wearer is at risk. 

To ensure that the correct hand protection is being used within the workplace and wearers are correctly protected, Deborah Cooney, national account manager at UK glove supplier Polyco, suggests the following five factors: 

  • Identify all hazards – Is there a risk of abrasion, cut, puncture or high temperature? All potential risks must be identified to ensure that the correct level of protection is provided 
  • Identify substances handled – Many types of hand protection differ in specification including the design, material and thickness. No glove material will protect against every substance.
  • Consider the task – Gloves should protect, not hinder the user; choose gloves that balance protection with dexterity and ensure the gloves selected meet the standards required for the task.
  • Consider the type and duration of contact – How long will the glove be worn? Comfort should be a consideration if worn for a long period of time. In general, thicker gloves offer greater protection than thinner gloves, whereas thinner gloves offer more dexterity. 
  • Consider the user – The correct hand protection should fit the wearer; tight gloves can promote fatigue (which could lead to handling accidents), whereas gloves that are too big for the wearer can create folds, impairing dexterity (which could lead to snagging accidents when using machinery). To ensure best fit use sizing charts.