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OSHA 1910.138: Hand Protection, General Requirements

Back in the day, workers considered it a sign of durability and hardiness to not wear gloves when performing tasks in the workplace. Most never considered wearing gloves to keep a better grip on tools, prevent knuckle busters and burns, or just to keep the hands clean. This attitude is often still a problem in today’s workforce. Hand injuries, including injury to fingernails and fingers, are often written off as first-aid usage and near-misses. That is why OSHA has come up with its 1910.138 standard outlining the general requirements employers should contemplate when selecting PPE equipment for hand protection.

Compliance Requirements:
The requirement is clearly stated on OSHA’s website:

Standard 1910.138(a) General requirements: “Employers shall select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when employees’ hands are exposed to hazards, such as those from skin absorption of harmful substances; severe cuts or lacerations; severe abrasions; punctures; chemical burns; thermal burns; and harmful temperature extremes.”

Standard 1910.138(b) deals with the selection of such protective hand gear: “Employers shall base the selection of the appropriate hand protection on an evaluation of the performance characteristics of the hand protection relative to the task(s) to be performed, conditions present, duration of use, and the hazards and potential hazards identified.”

Why Standard is Important:
Many consider the use of gloves hard to comply with and unnecessary. Yet, more categories and classifications of gloves for broader purposes exist than ever
before—cut-resistant, chemical protective, electrically-rated, infection control— just to name a few.

The PPE standard for hand protection, 29 CFR 1910.138, specifies the selection criteria to be used when providing hand protection, and ensures that employers provide their workers with PPE that is relevant to their work. OSHA advises employers to use manufacturers’ data on the effectiveness of any given product to protect against cold, as well as employee feedback, in selecting hand protection.

As stated in paragraph 2 of Appendix B, Assessment and Selection: “It should be the responsibility of the safety officer to exercise common sense and appropriate expertise to accomplish these tasks.”

Compliance Assistance:
OSHA has put out a Guide for Personal Protective Equipment, which includes a section outlining their policies on hand protection. Supervisors and people in charge of worker safety wishing to seek out more information can consult this comprehensive guide to personal protective equipment.

“The OSHA 1910.138 is one of the most important standards of protection that directly relates to the overall mission of MCR Safety.  ‘We Protect People’ is what MCR Safety does on a daily basis by manufacturing safety gear utilizing the latest technology in raw materials.  We may not shoulder a weapon or wear a badge. However, we do take pride in keeping America’s workforce safe and injury free with MCR Safety Personal Protective Gear. #WeProtectPeople”

MCR Safety,, 800-955-688

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