In the UK, employers have a legal responsibility to protect workers. This applies as much to those on construction sites as it does to sedentary office workers – although the hazards obviously come in a different form.
Of particular importance to most workers are the hands. Injuries to the hands can result in a hugely reduced quality of life and reduced productivity. A skilled tradesperson like a plumber or a carpenter will find themselves unable to work while their hands are injured. This provides a financial incentive to invest in the right protection, to go along with the obvious ethical one.
Protective gloves offer workers protection against a diverse range of hazards. Let’s take a look at a few of those hazards, and how the right workwear might make a difference.
Importance of protection
A needle will have no trouble penetrating an ordinary glove, which is why workers charged with handling needles (or debris that might conceivably contain needles) should be wearing something a little more robust. This may be important to gardeners, who are exposed to thorn bushes and other prickly hazards.
Similarly, machinery that’s designed to cut and grind, like table saws and angle grinders, might inflict significant damage if they come into contact with human flesh. While a glove won’t allow you to walk away from such an accident without suffering significantly, the right gloves can sometimes make a difference. Look for something that’s specifically marketed as cut resistant. While it will take something very substantial to stop a rotating blade, the right gloves can make the difference in the case of handsaws and other blades that don’t move quite as fast.
Changes in Temperature
Worthy of special mention are cold temperatures, which pose a more chronic risk. It’s only in extreme cases that cold weather will cause the loss of fingers – but repeated cycles of cold can contribute to problems like arthritis in the long term. It might also cause muscle problems that, as well as being inherently bad, will also make other accidents more likely. If you can’t move your fingers easily, and you’re carrying heavy loads or operating machinery, then the outcome could be disastrous.
Some glove types will become brittle in cold temperatures. In some cases, you might find it appropriate to wear fingerless gloves – so that you’re still able to perform fine-detail tasks which require sensation in the tips of your fingers.
In certain environments, like healthcare facilities and in food production and preparation, biological hazards are to be treated very seriously. Gloves prevent biological matter from coming into contact with your skin. They thereby prevent the transmission of harmful pathogens in either direction.