Hand and arm protection is one of the most common types of personal protective equipment used during plant and equipment maintenance.
The hands are at particular risk because they are used to perform the majority of manual tasks and injury to them is often an overlooked risk to personal safety.
They are exposed to a number of different types of risks depending on the work being carried out. There are also the ergonomic implications of using hand protection while working. All these aspects must be considered when selecting the appropriate type of protection to ensure workplace safety.
The most common type of hand and arm hazard is that presented by mechanical hazards. For example, the use of gloves to protect workers’ hands in construction is a critical part of site safety and often construction workers will not be allowed to access site without personal hand protection.
When selecting gloves to protect from mechanical hazards, products conforming to the standard EN 388 should be selected to ensure workplace safety. This standard defines the protection a glove provides according to the following mechanical risks:
To make it easier to identify these, attributes are represented on all hand protection that is suitable for protection from mechanical hazards.
Many maintenance activities require contact with chemicals, whether through the application of solvents for cleaning or the draining of transmission components containing oil. By their nature, chemicals pose a serious risk to workplace safety.
Employers can ensure the personal safety of the hand and arm by choosing products that are in conformity with EN 374. Not only does this standard deal with protection from chemicals, but it can also provide protection against microbial hazards.
Gloves that meet this standard will carry the following labelling. The information contained within the labelling, as well as the instructions to the user, allow the selection of the correct protection:
The pictogram indicates protection from chemical hazards. Next to the pictogram is the reference for the standard and below that the ‘Type’ indication.
The type indication is listed as below:
- Type A – offers the greatest protection
- Type B – similar protection as type A, but to a lesser number of chemicals
- Type C – lowest protection, only suitable for very short-term exposure
The third indicator on the pictogram represents a list of chemicals the gloves will protect the hands against, shown above as ABCDEF.
The characters refer to the chemicals in the list below:
|CODE LETTERS||CHEMICAL||CAS NO.||CLASS|
|E||Carbone disulphide||75-15-0||Sulphur containing organic compound|
|H||Tetrahydrofurane||109-99-9||Heterocyclic and ether compound|
|K||Sodium hydroxide 40%||1310-73-2||Inorganic base|
|L||Sulphuric acid 96%||7664-93-9||Inorganic mineral acid, oxidizing|
|M||Nitric acid 65%||7697-37-2||Inorganic mineral acid, oxidizing|
|N||Acetic acid 99%||764-19-7||Organic acid|
|O||Ammonium hydroxide 25%||1336-21-6||Organic base|
|P||Hydrogen peroxide 30%||7722-84-1||Peroxide|
|S||Hydrofluoric acid 40%||7664-39-3||Inorganic mineral acid|
It is also important to ensure suitable gloves are worn when administering chemical spill control. This can often be overlooked.
High-temperature thermal hazards
Another common hazard that must be prevented under workplace safety is that caused by temperature. Extremes of temperature can cause serious and lasting injury and have a significant influence on personal safety.
High-temperature hazards arise when excessive heat is transferred to the hand or arm.
Where necessary, this must be protected against, and selecting a product conforming to the standard EN 407 allows for this.
Products meeting this standard prevent the transfer of heat via:
- Conduction (direct contact)
With the additional consideration of the products’ ability to protect against contact with small and large quantities of molten metal
Products conforming to this standard will be labelled with the following pictogram. The performance data of the glove is also included in the graphic:
Low-temperature thermal hazards
Low-temperature hazards arise when excessive heat is transferred from the hand or arm.
Where necessary, this must be protected against and selecting a product conforming to the standard EN 511 allows for this.
This standard considers the protection from:
- Conduction (direct contact)
- Water penetration
Gloves providing protection from low temperatures will be labelled as below: