I remember as a kid going in to work with my dad when he worked maintenance at the local factory. My dad could do anything! If there was a machine that wasn’t working, he could fix it. One day, when he was working on an electrical panel, all of a sudden he yanked his hand and grimaced. I asked him what happened, and he said “A little shock. Hazard of the job, but I’ll be fine.” Dad wasn’t wearing any gloves that day, and he was lucky. Now, I've followed in his footsteps and become a facilities engineer, I know how important it is to wear my rubber gloves whenever I am near live voltage. I want to make sure that I get home safe each day to see my family, and one day, when my son is old enough, to bring him to work with me to see what I do.
Rubber Insulating Safety Gloves and Electric Shock
Rubber insulating safety gloves are an important piece of personal protection equipment designed to protect workers from electric shocks. OSHA has established guidelines for what types of gloves to use under what circumstances. To casual observers, every rubber safety glove may look like it provides the same kind of protection. But in reality, they are rated for different levels of voltage exposure.
Simply wearing gloves, however, is not enough to ensure the safety of your hands. The gloves also have to be in good working condition. They must also be regularly tested by an accredited laboratory to make sure they are still safe for their intended use.
Download this helpful poster on how to inspect your rubber insulating gloves.
Workers should also inspect the gloves daily. Putting on gloves without first inspecting them is taking an unnecessary risk. Look for rips, tears, holes (even pinholes), cracking, or foreign objects embedded in the glove. Any of these can make the gloves less effective at preventing electric shocks. If your inspection reveals any flaw or damage to the gloves, replace it with a new pair that meets all of the safety specifications for the job.
Rubber insulating safety gloves are relatively affordable, certainly when compared with the cost of an electrical shock, injury, or fatality. If they are properly stored and cared for, they could last you several years (learn the best way to store your safety gloves).
Tips to Avoid Hand Injury from Electric Shock
- Only work with gloves with the right rating – the gloves will not protect your hands unless they can withstand sufficient voltage
- Training should instruct workers on how to inspect their gloves and identify the signs that they have been compromised
- Regular reminders that damaged gloves should be replaced immediately will reduce the likelihood that someone gets to work with inadequate protection instead of taking the time to get proper PPE (for related advice, see these 6 PPE Guidelines Every Employee Should Know)
- Employers must demonstrate a commitment to educating their employees about workplace safety, including how to safely work with electrical hazards
With the right rubber insulating safety gloves, the risk of electric shock can be reduced dramatically. Make sure your gloves are in good, functioning order before you start your work. It might just save you a trip to the emergency room.