Keeping your hands covered and protected is not as simple as it may sound. There are multiple parts that are involved while keeping your hands protected at work, including: using the correct personal protective equipment (PPE), accepting your responsibility to always use hand protection and your employer’s requirement and responsibility to provide the correct PPE to promote a safe workplace. To further protect employees from accidental workplace injuries, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards 1910.138(a), General requirements and 1910.138(b) require employers to provide hand protection to workers.
Using the correct protection at your workplace begins with your employer or safety officer’s workplace hazard assessment. Each workplace has its own unique needs and the hazard assessment will reflect those needs and provide enough information so the employer can make informed decisions about what type of protection is needed. It is then your employers duty to provide their employees with the proper PPE and informational documents.
Often some workers need protection for activities that others may not: one worker may need protection from welding exposure with a welding glove, another may need protection from cutting meat with a cut-resistant glove. Each worker within an organization should have unique protection plan for their specific activity. You are just as unique as your activity and that should also be reflected by the size of the glove you need. All safety gloves come in a variety of sizes – from small to extra large, and your employer should provide a variety of size choices for workers, providing a proper fit for optimal protection.
So far, much of the information about hand safety has revolved around the employer’s responsibilities. Now it is about you, the worker. Many workplaces require the wear of various types of protective equipment for everyday work. It is your responsibility to comply to not only protect yourself but promote a safe work environment. Your compliance will enhance your safety, but could also encourage fellow co-workers to wear their safety equipment.
Recently, many employers have been adopting PPE Programs to encourage safe work environments. These programs make it easier for employees to comply with PPE requirements by providing PPE training. The training helps to teach employees how keep PPE clean and in good condition and to encourage employees to tell supervisors when PPE need to be repaired or replaced. Additionally, many PPE Programs include visual tools for workers. Usually the visual tools are signs placed throughout the workplace to encourage employees to follow regulations such as wearing the appropriate work gloves at all times. Signs are specialized with what type of protection should be worn for each specific activity.
Hand protection is not a single person’s responsibility, it is a team effort between employers and employees and must be taken seriously. The key is for everyone to do their part to meet workplace requirements. When both employees and employers follow PPE rules and regulations, the amount of injuries can be vastly reduced. The proper PPE with an appropriate fit helps ensure workers that they are provided with the best protection to make the workplace a much more safe environment for everyone.