Soon in northern climes with the arrival of spring and the greening of the outdoors, we’ll be outside digging in the dirt starting our vegetable and flower gardens, pruning shrubs, cleaning up yard debris, and mowing the lawn. To accomplish this, hand and power tools made of steel with honed edges, pointed ends, and sharp teeth will be used. We’ll be spreading lime and fertilizer for a lush green landscape and maybe even applying herbicides and insecticides to control unwanted guests, orchestrating all of this with the use of our dexterous hands. So it stands to reason, we should protect our “paws” and nimble fingers against cuts, chemical exposure, and the chance of infection from bacteria-laden earth.
The obvious safeguard is to don a pair of gloves; but the selection of the right glove for the job is less apparent when you consider all the hazards (at hand). This is the same perplexing issue many employers are faced with when conducting a personal protective equipment (PPE) assessment specific for hand protection. The appropriate glove for protection against sharp tools may be an all-purpose leather glove or one made of cut-resistant Kevlar but the answer is less clear for safeguarding against chemical use.
Gloves intended for protection against chemicals are rated for their resistance to permeation and degradation. Permeation is a process by which a chemical can pass through the molecules of the glove material and degradation is a reduction in the physical properties of the glove material when exposed to a chemical. In sizing up the situation for selecting the right glove, the safety data sheet for the chemical product should be reviewed with regard to its chemical composition. Typically, the major constituent in weight percent is evaluated for PPE use. From this “ingredient” information, the proper glove can be determined by referencing a rating chart. The glove manufacturer Ansell has an online chemical resistance guide for 163 chemicals from acetaldehyde to xylene/xylol. For example, if a certain manufacturing process involves the use of the organic solvent acetone, the Ansell chart indicates a laminate film glove as well as neoprene and natural rubber to be appropriate glove selections while nitrile and polyvinyl chloride gloves are not recommended for use.
So review this glove rating chart or contact your PPE supply vendor to ensure the “hand in glove” is suitably protected against the chemical products in use. You’ll likely find this resource to be quite handy.
Also, check out these previous springtime related MEMIC blog posts, Your Lawn Mower is More Dangerous Than You Think and Spring Clean Up: Chainsaw Awareness. Have a safe and bountiful gardening season!