Pushing the Boundaries of Hand Protection
How a new technology is delivering next-generation comfort, dexterity and protection within industrial work gloves.
- By Andrew Shields
- Feb 01, 2021
Most industrial work gloves include a back-of-hand impact protector. Usually made from TPR (thermoplastic rubber) and stitched or glued onto the product, this component of PPE is vital in terms of function, but has a number of drawbacks.
The thickness of the TPR needed to give sufficient protection can make gloves inflexible and tiring to wear, while the level of dexterity required by a worker to complete many manual tasks can be compromised. The lack of ventilation caused by the large surfaces of solid TPR bumpers in such gloves also means they retain heat and sweat, making them uncomfortable over long periods of use.
As a result, some workers simply discard their hand protection rather than perservering with equipment that is uncomfortable and unsuited to the task. However, doing this leaves workers at greater risk of serious injury to one of the most vulnerable parts of the body.
Personnel in the offshore oil and gas, construction, mining, manufacturing, warehousing and transport industries, as well as consumers doing DIY, are particularly susceptible to hand impact injuries.
In 2018, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 43 percent of non-fatal occupational injuries to upper extremities requiring days away from work affected the hands. The Association of Drilling Contractors’ 2018 summary of occupational incidents found that more than 41 percent of total industry recordable incidents by body part involved fingers, hands and wrists.
Applying Cross-Sector Learning
A particular issue in developing products intended for use in demanding environments such as these is that glue or adhesive can fail, while stitching can come apart. Stitched products also require a flange, further obstructing dexterity and breathability and making them less comfortable.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Occupational Health & Safety.