What do I need to think about to choose the best construction gloves for the job I'm doing?
Construction environments are dynamic and host a diverse set of hazards. When selecting the proper gloves to protect your hands on a construction site, a thorough hazard assessment should be completed to ensure that the nature of the risks are clear. A worker's tasks and responsibilities may also change throughout the work day, prompting the need for another type of glove to ensure adequate protection for your hands (read about 12 Types of Hand Protection Gloves – and How to Choose the Right One).
Here are some key things to consider when choosing an appropriate construction glove.
Will the work include sawing or cutting of raw wood or metal?
When working with wood or sawing by hand, it is prudent to consider a glove that will deter slivers while still protecting the back of the hands from a cut. Having a substantial barrier between the saw blade and back of the hand can prevent injury in the event that the hand saw jumps out of its cut.
Will the work include rotating or powered equipment such as a circular saws, chop saws, reciprocating saws, or grinders?
Working with this style of equipment incurs another set of hazards: gloves getting caught in the tool. The user should strive for a tight fitting glove to avoid this potential danger.
Using rotating or powered equipment on metal can also introduce sparks, heated surfaces, or sharp burrs. A heat- and puncture-resistant, form-fitting leather glove is a good candidate where these hazards are present.
Will the work include powder-actuated tools, pneumatic tools, or exerting a large amount of pressure with hands (as with a pry bar or spud wrench)?
Depending on the task, the potential for a sudden release of energy should be considered a hazard. A glove with the ability to absorb some of that energy, or “impact,” is a desirable choice.
Will the work include vibration for extended periods of time?
It is not uncommon to be exposed to vibrating tools, such as a concrete vibrator, a jackhammer, or a plate tamper, for prolonged periods of time during construction duties. Recognizing this risk and selecting a glove which adequately protects your hands from vibration can assist in preventing the onset of Hand-Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS) or Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
Will the work include climbing scaffolding, ladders, or other structures?
If the task will contain an extensive amount of climbing, grip might be the most important feature of a work glove. Selecting a glove that fits well, will not slip, and will retain its grip in the event of rain can keep hands protected, and even serve a secondary purpose – preventing a fall (learn more about hand safety in Beyond Gloves: 7 Things to Do to Keep Your Hands Safe at Work).
Does the work involve mobile equipment or machinery?
If the task involves operating forklifts, skid steers, loaders, or other mobile equipment where strapping loads is expected and a safe grip on the steering wheel is also required, a functional and comfortable general use glove may work well. A form fitting leather “roper” glove is a well-rounded protective glove for this application. However, if the equipment is transferring an extensive amount of vibration to the hands, anti-vibration gloves should be considered.
Will the task include painting, greasing dowels, fueling construction equipment, or working with wet cement?
Further consideration should be taken to select the most appropriate chemical-resistant glove when working with greases, solvents, fuels, or wet cement. When working unprotected, fuel burns, cement burns, or ingestion of chemicals through broken skin or absorption is not always evident immediately. For instance, exposure to wet cement or fuel may not cause immediate discomfort. However, it could result in irritation after the exposure, and a burn may develop after several hours. Referring to a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) is a great way to ensure the selected glove will sufficiently address the properties of the materials you are working with.
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