Chemical Resistant Gloves

Certain jobs involve working with chemicals that could be harmful to the skin and it is essential to guarantee chemical safety when carrying out such tasks. Chemical resistant gloves are designed to protect against a wide variety of chemicals and liquids. In addition, chemical safety equipment may also offer varying levels of abrasion, cut, tear, puncture and thermal resistance. They range from those meant for minimal chemical exposure, providing splash protection, to those that can be used for full chemical immersion. It is therefore important to select the most appropriate chemical protection gloves depending on the particular task and chemicals involved.

Task Assessment
Using appropriate hand protection is critical when your hands are exposed to dangers such as absorption of dangerous substances and chemicals through the skin, or thermal burns. The selection of chemical resistant gloves is influenced by the characteristics of the glove material in relation to the task to be performed as well as the present conditions, duration of the task and the hazards identified. Assessing the task for chemical exposure is critical as it will allow you to select the best material, length, thickness and other traits of the protective glove.

Chemical Properties
Hazard assessments are often carried out by an industrial hygienist or safety professional that is familiar with the job. The chemicals that will be used during the task are first identified. The toxic properties of the chemicals are then determined. Particular attention is given to the potential effects of the chemicals on the skin as well as absorption and the effects this would have in the body system.

The concentration and temperature of the chemical should also be given careful consideration. Note that a highly concentrated chemical or one that is at a higher temperature could have a faster effect on the gloves. This would shorten the time that the gloves would be able to offer appropriate protection. Additional hazards that may occur during the task, such as cuts or abrasions, may also affect the gloves’ effectiveness.

The duration of exposure to chemicals must also be considered when selecting appropriate work gloves. Certain tasks may only require protection against chemical splashes or intermittent chemical contact. On the other hand, other tasks may involve full immersion or continual contact of the hand with the chemicals.

Manufacturer Guides
Chemical resistant gloves are evaluated based on the time it takes for a particular chemical to permeate or degrade the glove’s material. The chemical resistance guide provided by the manufacturer should give you accurate information so you can select the gloves offering the most resistance to the chemicals in use. Some of the most common terminologies that may be used in such guides include:

Breakthrough time: This is the length of time from the chemical’s initial contact with the glove’s surface to the analytical detection of the chemical inside the glove.

Degradation: This is any change in one of more of the glove’s physical properties as a result of chemical contact. This may appear as softening, swelling, cracking or shrinking of the glove material.

Permeation rate: This is the speed at which the chemical passes through the glove material. It involves its absorption on the glove surface, diffusion through the glove material and finally desorption of the chemical on the inside surface of the glove.

Note that the data provided in such guides usually offers information for pure chemicals. As such, in case of a chemical mixture, the best approach would be to select a glove based on the chemical component that has the least breakthrough time.

Other Considerations
In addition to chemical safety, it is also important to consider the comfort and ease of use that chemical resistant gloves provide. For instance, tasks such as lab work may require finer motor ability than operations like cleaning industrial parts, so thinner glove material may be necessary. In such a case, it is worth noting that chemicals may permeate through the material faster, limiting the length of time the gloves should be worn.

Chemical resistant gloves could be designed for single-use or may be reusable. However, although decontaminating gloves may be possible, it is often not practical since the decontamination procedure may be more expensive than replacing the gloves.

Note that although there is a wide selection of glove choices available, no particular glove could possibly address all types of hazards when working with chemicals. In addition, chemical resistant gloves should never be taken as substitutes for proper engineering tools or safe work practices.