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OSHA 1910.138 – The Standard for 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 hazard/s 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/us/en

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As with all of the personal protective equipment (PPE) required by OSHA, hand protection must be safely designed and constructed. It should fit well and be comfortable, so as to encourage workers to wear it consistently and for as long as needed. Additionally, ill-fitting work gloves may not provide the protection they are supposed to. It is important to replace gloves whose condition has degraded due to wear and tear or exposure to damaging substances or conditions. Engineering, work practices and administrative changes precede hand protection in the hierarchy of controls stipulated by OSHA.

Employers are also required to train each worker who will wear hand protection so that they know:

  • When it is necessary
  • What kind is necessary
  • How to properly put it on, adjust, wear and take it off
  • The limitations of the equipment
  • Proper care, maintenance, useful life and disposal of the hand protection

Key Provisions of the Standard

OSHA 1910.138 Hand Protection is one of the agency’s more succinct regulations:

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 and potential hazards identified.

Enforcement Activity

Citations regarding this standard resulting from federal OSHA inspections during the period October 2022 through September 2023 include:

Hand Injuries

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics[1] (BLS) there were 238,900 nonfatal hand injuries in private industry involving days away from work in 2021-2022, along with 63,400 wrist injuries. Common hand injuries include cuts and lacerations, fractures, burns, soft tissue injuries, infections and high-pressure injuries, such as those caused by grease and paint guns.

Depending upon their work-related tasks and tools and environments, workers’ hands face an incredible array of hazards, including machinery, sharp objects, biohazards, hot and cold temperatures, moisture and toxic chemicals. Fortunately, manufacturers have continued to introduce innovative new designs and materials that have helped hand protection evolve and become more effective. In addition to higher protection levels, many types of work gloves are lighter and more comfortable to wear for long periods of time, reducing fatigue and ergonomic injuries.

Glove materials and coatings include PVC, latex and nitrile, polyurethane, leather and various synthetic products. Some are single use and others are long lasting. Dexterity and grip levels vary. In order to select the right gloves, employers must conduct a thorough hazard assessment that will identify the specific hazards present in the workplace, such as punctures, impact and vibrations, and determine appropriate:

  • Protection levels
  • Dexterity requirements, so that the wearer is able to perform the tasks necessary for his or her job
  • Size and fit

Who Pays for Hand Protection?

OSHA requires employers to pay for gloves and other forms of personal protective equipment when it is used to comply with OSHA[2] standards and protect employees from job-related injuries, illnesses and fatalities.

View OSHA 1910.138 at https://www.osha.gov/laws-regs/regulations/standardnumber/1910/1910.138 WMHS

[1]https://tinyurl.com/mrdxhtvy

[2]www.osha.gov/personal-protective-equipment/payments

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