When working in any kind of industrial workplace, personal protective equipment is essential and strictly enforced by OSHA guidelines. Some of the most important pieces of PPE are safety gloves. This is because your hands are not only crucial for performing your job, but they’re also most often the parts of your body placed in harm’s way. Work gloves come in a variety of materials and designs to further specialize how your hands are protected—from abrasion resistance to heat or cold resistance. But a specific type of glove we want to consider is nitrile-coated gloves. Even more specifically, we want to focus on how to tell it’s time to replace your palm-coated gloves. It’s often difficult to determine when they’ve outlived their function and can no longer effectively protect you.
When considering the durability of gloves, many people confuse the term with longevity, trying to quantify how long a pair will last before becoming completely unsalvageable. Instead, durability refers more to the performance qualities of the gloves. For example, the nitrile coating on the palms of our gloves increases grip strength and provides superior cut protection. In this case, durability would refer to how well the nitrile coating can protect from cuts and thus is measured by its ability to withstand such damage.
If you’re trying to determine how long a pair of gloves will last, there’s really no good way to do so. There are simply too many variables that could affect your gloves’ condition. Thus, you should focus on the features protective gloves have to offer and find a pair that is most geared toward your specific work and needs. Using our palm-coated gloves again as an example, they’re best suited for work sites that require high visibility. While the coated palm provides better protection, the uncoated areas are bright and vibrantly colored to clearly distinguish a worker’s hands from the environment they’re in.
Signs of Wear and Tear
So how do you identify serious signs of wear and tear before obvious holes and damage? A good visual indication of wear and tear is color variation in both the coating and the liner. This varying color shows that the integrity of the gloves is weakening and, as a result, becoming less and less reliable in maintaining your safety. In fact, you may be able to feel the material thinning in discolored spots.
Other visual signs that tell you it’s time to replace your palm-coated gloves are cracks in the coating, small punctures in the lining, and other small defects. These small damages may seem inconsequential, but such small issues are akin to a “weak link” that may develop into a much larger problem. Your gloves will degrade faster than necessary if you don’t have such defects repaired.
Proper Care Practices
So how do you protect your gloves when you work in an environment that is so rough and harsh on your personal protective equipment? The best way to prolong your gloves is to ensure you’re following best practices and providing the proper maintenance and care you would give any machinery or equipment.
The first and most basic task is to perform a routine inspection of your gloves after the workday is done. It’s easy to simply throw your gloves off to the side at the end of the day. But taking the time to inspect your gloves will help you catch damage and defects early before they can grow into something greater—defects like small punctures, cracks, or tears.
Another good practice is to follow the manufacturer’s laundering instructions when cleaning work gloves. Many people will simply throw their gloves into the laundry, not realizing that cleaning them incorrectly may cause more harm than good. The manufacturer will provide thorough directions on how to best launder your gloves so that you see the best results without hindering their functionality or exacerbating the wear and tear.
To ensure gear like gloves is used correctly and not damaged unnecessarily, employees should be thoroughly trained. You should also enforce best practices to ensure workers are performing their jobs correctly and not putting themselves in undue danger or putting greater stress on their equipment. It’s also a good idea to train and regularly provide refreshers on how to properly use gear and equipment, as well as review how the features of the gloves protect and benefit them. This training becomes more relevant as the industry makes improvements to safety garments and constructs them out of new materials.
Once workers understand how to care for their gloves, they should know how to identify damage and defects so that they know when they need to replace their gloves. Teach them to look for color variations in their garments and to not ignore small cuts, punctures, and cracks that may seem inconsequential in the moment. This will help you stay on top of replacing work gloves when needed and ensuring every employee has the equipment they need.
Organized training and impressing the functionality and importance of safety equipment like palm-coated gloves will make your workers more likely to wear them while on the job. It will also lower the risk of injuries and accidents within the workplace.
Deciding When To Toss
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s important to know when it’s time to toss a pair of gloves. Some gloves are made for a specific amount of time, such as disposable one-time-use gloves, and others try to have as long a lifespan as possible. As we’ve mentioned, obvious damage like large holes or incisions will render the gloves useless. Be diligent about repairing and maintaining your work gloves as small damages occur. It’s better to replace your gloves if the defects and damages occur at greater frequencies and the gloves simply aren’t as effective or functional as they used to be.
If you need to replace your gloves, then you need to ensure you have a dependable supplier that can provide you with quality gloves. Hi-Vis Safety offers a variety of palm-coated nitrile gloves that will give you options to choose from for the best performance in your industry. You can also rely on us to help you understand how to best use your work gloves and what specific signs to look for regarding wear and tear so that you can anticipate glove replacements early.