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One of the best aspects of this job is having the opportunity to sit down with industry experts and pick their brains with all of our glove-related nerdy questions. We also love to pass that information on to you. Here is a rundown from our expert series with information that you may have missed or forgot you learned. Here is the full list of experts we’ve talked to so far, be sure to check back as experts are being added to the list regularly.
Jill Clements – DuPont™ Senior Applications Research Engineer:
With 18 years of experience in new product and application development, it’s safe to say that Jill knows her stuff about high-strength textiles. Jill’s philosophy is take the time to choose the right safety apparel for your workplace is highly important. We asked her to pass on her knowledge about shopping for high-performance safety apparel and choosing the right Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for each workplace.
The demand for high-performance gloves and sleeves is focused on lighter weight, higher strength materials. People want their apparel to be breathable and feel comfortable while giving them the best possible protection. Essentially we want all of the protection without the feeling of bulk.
Seems pretty straight forward but because not all threats are created equal, it means that there isn’t one glove to protect workers from all hazards.
Safety apparel is meant to protect people against the threats that users will be exposed to. “To be considered high-performance, I think an item must meet a certain industry standard as related to a task. If an item does not meet a minimum industry standard in some way, I consider it to be “general purpose.”
“Think I can get another week out of these?”
Hugh Hoagland – Founder of ArcWear, an arc flash testing firm for PPE:
If you’re ever at a PPE dinner party, be sure to saddle up next to Hugh Hoagland, he gets paid to play with fire and has some pretty amazing stories to tell. He’s tested over 150,000 electric arcs over his career – more than anyone else in the world.
The most dangerous type of arc flash typically occurs in three-phase equipment. Almost any industrial machine is considered three-phase equipment – the motor that fires a conveyor belt or a larger AC system. The main causes of arc flashes are human error or equipment failure from poor design, lack of maintenance, dust or dirt inside the equipment.
Developing a hand protection program that addresses the risks of the job is important, but sometimes the part that gets overlooked is maintaining the gloves. If it’s launderable, wash it regularly. If it’s had a hydrocarbon exposure – oil or grease – clean it or replace it. Hugh says workers should wear their PPE at all times, “I’ve done 160 accident investigations – and unfortunately, the most common problem is from people not wearing the equipment.”
“We hide our gloveless hands in shame.”
Alex Blair — DuPont™ Kevlar® Business Development Manager:
Over his 11 years working in the safety industry, Alex has gained insight into automotive, metal fabrications and cut applications. In his interview, we focused on common mistakes made by companies with their hand protection programs.
Alex said he usually finds one of two extremes when visiting an end-user. Either the company has too few glove options, hoping to use one glove for every task or there are too many gloves to choose from, in an effort to keep every employee happy. Neither situation is desirable, a company needs a selection of gloves for the various hazards in a workplace, but offering too many options indicates a lack of control, which increases costs and means the right glove may not always be worn for each task. In short, Alex says “standardization without going overboard is key.”
The first area of a business to get the axe when it comes time to cut costs is the hand protection program, according the Alex. “Whenever a plant skimps on their hand protection program, they end up actually increasing glove usage, increasing injuries and opening themselves up to trouble with OSHA.”
One of the worst practices Alex has seen while visiting an automotive plant was using cotton gloves for handling metal stampings. “Those plants are often going through 6-8 pairs of cotton gloves per day,” Alex said, “when they could be using one Kevlar glove, laundering it, and then reusing it.” By looking at the lifetime cost of a glove rather than the initial purchase price, a launderable glove will end up being less expensive and offer better protection for their workers.
Matt Reid — DSM Dyneema® High Performance Textiles Manager
Matt has 20 years experience in the glove industry and hand protection authority, during our conversation we focused on the dos and donts of Hand Protection Programs.
Safety managers get so much information thrown at them when it comes to gloves that they tend to choose the highest level of cut protection. The danger here is that higher cut protection typically means less flexibility. “I actually saw this very recently in a facility that was handling sheet metal. The workers actually had the gloves in their pockets, and quickly put them on when they saw the Safety Manager, because they literally could not do their jobs with the gloves provided to them.”
The current trend, Matt said, on higher performance that is lighter, more flexible and more comfortable will continue. “I think you’ll see material technology increase with smart materials… material science will drive hand protection design and improvements.” Matt also mentioned that this will merge with style, the best way to improve compliance is a good looking, well designed glove.
(Still have questions? Why not download one of our most requested resources The Definitive Guide to Hand Protection)
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Hand Injury Rates are Reduced by 60% when using the right gloves.