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OSHA 1910.138 – Hand Protection

“The OSHA 1910.138 statute is instrumental in defining that the proper glove protection should be chosen when hazards are present. This selection process is a complex one when consumers realize the multiple hazards that a workforce can be exposed to, along with the vast amount of hand protection options in the market. At SHOWA, resources for consumer inquiries for hand protection selection is a top priority so consumers receive the proper recommendations for the hazards at hand. Regardless of the hazards, SHOWA is always there to make sure that our customers have the correct hand PPE option for their workforce to get any job done.” Brian Moseley, R&D Technical Manager, SHOWA Group. 1-800-241-0323, www.showagroup.com

A workers’ hands might arguably be said to be the most important tool he or she uses on the job. Despite this, hands often go unprotected, with the result being that serious workforce hand injuries send more than a million employees to the emergency room each year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average number of lost workdays for hand injuries is six days, but a significant percentage of hand injuries result in chronic problems or long-term disability. Despite these sobering statistics, hand protection is often lacking. Some workers say they find gloves uncomfortable or feel that gloves interfere with their ability to perform certain tasks. Some companies fail to implement and maintain effective safety programs that including providing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and making sure it is worn. Both of these obstacles can be overcome. The variety of glove types, sizes and finishes available today makes it possible for workers to find hand protection that fits them comfortably and allows them to grasp, lift and manipulate objects and machinery. Companies and their safety managers can require that appropriate hand protection be worn whenever necessary. Aside from being mandatory, such an action will enhance profits and productivity and reduce the costs of workers’ compensation claims by helping to prevent hand injuries.

Provisions of the standard

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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.

1910.138(b)

Selection. 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/potential hazards identified.

Industries most cited for violations of 1910.138

From October 2020 through September 2021, the following industries received the most citations and penalties following OSHA inspections:

  • Manufacturing
  • Accommodation and Food Services
  • Wholesale Trade
  • Other Services (except Public Administration)
  • Administrative & Support and Waste Management & Remediation Services
  • Retail Trade
  • Health Care and Social Assistance
  • Utilities
  • Arts, Entertainment and Recreation
  • Mining, Quarrying, and Oil & Gas Extraction
  • Construction
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing and Hunting

Hand protection usage and care

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Like all PPE, safety gloves should be well designed and constructed, and should be maintained in a clean and reliable fashion. They should fit comfortably, encouraging worker use. If a glove does not fit properly, it can make the difference between being safely covered or dangerously exposed. When engineering, work practice and administrative controls are not feasible or do not provide sufficient protection, employers must provide gloves and other PPE to their workers and ensure its proper use. Employers are also required to train each worker required to use gloves to know:

  • When they are necessary
  • What kind of gloves are necessary
  • How to properly put them on, adjust, wear them and take them off
  • The limitations of the glove
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of the gloves

Glove types

The wide range of glove types available today makes it possible for employers to find hand protection that is appropriate for the hazards involved in their operations. Manufacturers have continued to develop technologies and expand size ranges. There are washable, disposable, gauntlet style and vend ready gloves (for easy distribution among large workforces). Styles can be customized using various liners and coatings.

Payment for hand protection

Many OSHA standards require employers to provide personal protective equipment, when it is necessary to protect employees from job-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities. With few exceptions, the agency requires employers to pay for personal protective equipment – including hand protection – when it is used to comply with OSHA standards.

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. www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3151.pdf WMHS

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