In 2015, there were more than 902,000 nonfatal injuries involving days away from work in private industry. Injuries to upper extremities topped the list with more than 294,000 injuries, and injuries to the hand accounted for more than 124,000 of those injuries.
In an effort to understand the incidence of and contributing factors to workplace hand injuries, a survey of more than 400 safety professionals, co-partnered by the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), was completed in late 2015. Survey respondents were asked to rank which type of hand injury was most common, and 41 percent ranked cuts or punctures at the top. Another question asked why these injuries occurred. The top reason cited – by more than 40 percent – was lack of personal protective equipment or cut-resistant gloves.
When engineering and administrative controls are not enough, cut-resistant gloves can help prevent hand injuries. To ensure the correct cut-resistant gloves are being selected, you have to understand the current industry standards and levels of cut protection.
Cut-resistant gloves are designed to protect hands from direct contact with sharp edges such as glass, metal, ceramics and other materials. Cut resistance is a function of a glove’s material composition and thickness.You can increase the level of cut protection by increasing material weight (i.e., ounces per square yard); by using high-performance materials such as Dyneema®, Kevlar®, and metal mesh; or by using composite yarns made with varying combinations of stainless steel, fiberglass, synthetic and high-performance yarns.
Performance characteristics are not only affected by a material’s weight, but also by the coatings applied to the outside surface. Lighter-weight styles offer more dexterity, resulting in less hand fatigue, while their heavier counterparts generally provide more cut and abrasion protection. Coated gloves enhance grip, especially on slippery surfaces. However, some coated gloves may not be appropriate for some applications, i.e. food handling.