What is dorsal hand impact resistance (IR) protection?
Hand protection is high on the list for important PPE, especially since we use our hands so frequently and it's difficult to perform almost any work task without them.
There is considerable statistical evidence showing that hand injuries often result from a combination of frequent exposure and abundant work hazards. The nature of any injury to a worker’s hands can also potentially be extremely severe. All these factors give us excellent motivation to strive for continuous improvement in protective gloves.
(Lead about the 12 Types of Hand Protection Gloves - And How to Choose the Right One.)
Let's talk about anatomy for a moment. The human hand contains 19 bones with 14 separate joints, along with ligaments holding things together and six more ligaments to attach the whole thing to the wrist. Next, we have the tendons – white, flexible fibrous cords at the end of muscles. The hand also has many nerves running throughout it.
The hand's structure, then, is extremely complex, and it's easy to injure any of those components while working. The injuries can result from cuts, punctures, abrasions, and chemical exposure. But here, we're going to talk about impact.
Recovery time for anything but the most minor hand injuries is high. Even a simple bone fracture can take up to six weeks to heal. If you suffer a complex hand injury, it could take months or even years to recover, and some of the damage might be permanent.
That's why it's worth seriously considering which workers could benefit from PPE with built-in impact resistance, especially in the dorsal side of the glove (the one covering the back of the hand).
Gloves with dorsal hand impact protection can have features like thermoplastic rubber (TPR) or thermoplastic elastomers (TPE), and proprietary foam that shields the top of the hand from unexpected impact. Hand PPE with these features might also have shock-absorbing pads placed in different areas along the back of the hand to create comfort and cushioning without interfering with hand function.
All of this is essentially to reduce the damage from an impact to the back of the hand and make workers that much safer form the hazards around them.
Take a look at the PPE program element of your safety management system and your task analysis to see if you have identified all the hand risks and hazards that require not only standard PPE, but dorsal protection as well. You might be surprised to find a risk you have overlooked.
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.
More Q&As from our experts
- What type of clothing should be worn inside a clean room?
- When should hardhats be replaced?
- What kind of hand sanitizer should we get for our workplace?