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Hard Working Hands: OSHA Level Hand Protection

Construction Workers Shaking Hands

Construction work is hard on the body, and it can be especially hard on your hands. Because your hands are so hard working and are necessary for your livelihood, it's vital to protect them. In this post, we'll take a look at considerations in hand protection and what OSHA requires for hand protection on the job:

Considerations in Hand Protection

It's vital to take into consideration the job that is being done and what kind of protection is needed. If hand protection makes the job too difficult, workers will tend to remove the hand protection and risk injury to their hands. Here are a few considerations in hand protection:

  • What areas need to be protected? Does only the hand need protection, or does the wrist or entire forearm need to be covered as well?
  • Does the job require fine dexterity? If the work takes place in wet, oily or slick conditions, does there need to be additional grip?
  • Does there need to be protection against chemicals? If so, what kind of chemicals, what type of exposure and for how long?
  • Is additional protection needed against thermal extremes, electricity, vibrations or wear and tear? To what extent of protection is needed?
  • Are the gloves the right size for everyone in your crew? Ill-fitting gloves provide poor protection and can cause more accidents.

OSHA Level Hand Protection

OSHA requires that employers provide protection for employees' hands for a variety of hazards. These include:

Work Glove
  • Abrasions: Material that makes it harder for abrasive materials to reach the skin or that will hold up against rubbing or rough surfaces work well for abrasion protection. Leather, hard reinforcement at wear points and thicker coatings over areas that stand proud from the surface of the hand, such as knuckles, all work well.
  • Cuts or Lacerations: Material that will hold up well against abrasion may not hold up against cuts or lacerations. A heavier leather, gloves with reinforcement at wear points and at areas that are more in danger of damage, metal mesh or gloves that otherwise provide protection against cuts help prevent damage to your hands, especially when working with utility knives, saws and similar equipment.
  • Punctures: Leather or reinforcement with harder materials is the best protection available against punctures. Often caused by a slipping screwdriver or drill bit, a nail, an awl or similar tool, puncture wounds can be ground zero for a serious infection and loss of functionality, even ending a contractor's building career.
  • Skin Protection from Harmful Substances and Chemical Burns: Depending on the particular substance, there are a wide range of options available, but for most chemical exposures, nitrile is the best option. Because it does not react and tends to hold up against most chemicals that can cause skin issues, it's one of the top options for contractors.
  • Thermal Burns: When you're dealing with hot substances or doing welding, you need to protect your hands against the serious heat that comes with the job. Heavy leather or split suede gloves provide the best protection, though there are a few other options that can also provide some protection against burns, such as Kevlar layers.
  • Extreme Temperatures: In the northeast, the biggest threat to your hands in terms of extreme temperature is frostbite. You need gloves that not only provide insulation, but also provides protection against dampness by wicking away sweat. If you do have a job where heat is a concern, you'll want gloves that can provide protection from thermal burns as above.

By taking good care of your hands, you're helping ensure that your livelihood is protected. Wear the proper hand protection for the job you're doing and your hands will give you years of work. If you need more information on how to protect yourself, or your fellow workers, be sure to download the OSHA Quick Card to Preventing Cold Stress below.

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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.