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Understanding Safety Supplies: Chemical Protection for Your Hands

Safety supplies for hands

Safety supplies such as protective work gloves play an important role in the safe handling of chemical compounds.


Personal protection equipment (PPE) and other safety supplies are often a last line of defense to protect the hands and skin of people who handle chemicals in the workplace. It would be great if this wasn’t necessary, but that’s not our reality. And that’s why PPE such as work gloves are a necessity.

Even in the most controlled environments, chemical spills and splashes happen. In others, the nature of the job requires close contact with chemicals on a frequent basis. The level of protection required depends on a number of factors:

  • Job type
  • Type of chemical
  • Type of exposure
  • Length of exposure

The bottom line is the work gloves you choose must provide the expected level of protection for the people who wear them.


Safety Supplies Don’t Last Forever

A report on glove selection compiled by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety points out some straightforward facts:

  • No glove material will remain impervious to a specific chemical forever
  • No one glove material is resistant to all chemicals
  • Some chemicals will travel through or permeate the glove in a few seconds

In other instances, it might take weeks for a chemical to start to break down the protective material.


Using MSDS Sheets

One of the first things you should do when selecting the appropriate safety supplies for a given chemical is to consult the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet). It contains all of the information workers and emergency personnel require for working with that substance in a safe manner. It includes physical data and handling procedures such as:

  • Melting/boiling/flash point
  • Toxicity
  • Reactivity
  • Health effects
  • First-aid treatment
  • Storage
  • Disposal

It also outlines the types of recommended protective equipment you should wear to safely handle it. If, for some reason, this information is missing, you should contact the chemical supplier or manufacturer for instructions. Otherwise, companies like JET Uniform & Supply specialize in safety supplies and are familiar with the types of protective gloves and other PPE required for certain job types.


Other Factors that Determine Glove Selection

While it’s essential to choose protective equipment that will stand up to the compounds you’re working with, there are a number of other factors that require consideration. Some of these include:

Physical hazards: In addition to chemical resistance, work gloves might also be required to withstand physical hazards such as:

  • Tearing
  • Puncture
  • Extreme temperature
  • Abrasion

Material performance: A worker might require a certain amount of grip, flexibility or touch sensitivity to complete a specific task. This could limit the thickness of glove material that can be used.

Potential contact: Will you only be in occasional contact with the chemical in question, or will your hands be continuously immersed in the substance? Is splash protection required?


For more information on PPE and workplace safety, read our post: 3 Ways to Get the Most out of Safety Supplies on the Worksite.


Does your company operate in an environment where workers handle potentially harmful chemicals? JET Uniform & Supply carries an extensive line of safety supplies to equip workers for all situations. Call us to discuss your workplace safety requirements.