Is it a good idea to layer FR gloves for winter?

Q:

Is it a good idea to layer FR gloves for winter?

A:

Absolutely!

Almost all winter work will require, at a minimum, two layers of FR work gloves. Depending on the job tasks and the amount of fine finger work, you may need three. All must be FR rated for the specific work and tasks.

Layering gloves are typically needed to handle three hazards: flame and heat, cold and damp, and the hazards of the task itself. You don’t want a worker taking off an outer FR set when the inner gloves are not FR rated – or worse, working barehanded (learn How to Put Together an FR Work Outfit for the Winter).

You also need a sufficient supply on hand to change out damp, wet, damaged, or soiled outer and inner gloves. Your FR system needs a written operational practice and procedure or work instructions in place for using FR work gloves, including a section on winter work. Those documents can be used in training, safety moments, or safety meetings (find out Why Safety Moments Matter).

If your hazard analysis shows that the work will be damp or wet, you will need to consider using a glove and inner liner that is not only flame resistant but also water resistant. Wool, for example, is a natural fiber that retains heat when damp or wet and also has good FR qualities. Handling electricity? All layers will need to be rated for that. Cut or puncture resistant and FR? Your hazard analysis, as always is key.

And remember that wet gloves, even leather or wool, can cause thermal/steam burns to the hands and wrists when exposed to high heat or flame.

There are many types and styles of outer glove, so be sure to job match. Favorites in the rail industry include a heavy leather outer mitten that goes well above the wrist combined with a woolen inner mitten. Other industries use a "three finger" style outer mitten with a similar inner mitten made of wool or other FR rated material. The gloves you use need to not only protect the hands, but also retain body heat.

So yes, layer FR gloves for winter. Talk to the worker’s to get their input on the comfort and "workability" of the gloves you select. Be sure to also consult manufacturers and suppliers. And lastly, always check the standards, acts, and regulations that apply to the work jurisdiction to ensure your choice is compliant.

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Written by Henry Skjerven

Mr. Skjerven has consulted professionally for over 27 years, with extensive Canadian experience, literally from coast to coast but with a home base in Western Canada. His experience ranges from marketing, adult education, and heavy transportation (rail) to municipal public works, fleet and transportation, oil and gas construction in the tar sands, emergency response (Fire and Ambulance), Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Security, as well as human resources and software systems, including enterprise style projects.

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