Working with heavy equipment, certain chemicals, and sharp blades is par for the course on many job sites. As a result, a number of different personal protective items can help to protect employees from hurting themselves on the job.
Depending on the type of chemical exposure and the responsibilities faced by employees, HPPE cut-resistant gloves may be an important addition to the daily uniform. Designed to protect hands from accidental cuts, abrasions, and chemical exposure, these gloves are flexible as well, so they do not inhibit fine motor skills.
There are a number of different types of HPPE gloves, each one designed for different purposes and to withstand different levels of cut resistance. It’s important to know what is available in the world of HPPE gloves, what protection is provided, and what to expect before purchasing in bulk.
What Does HPPE Mean?
In the context of protective gloves, HPPE stands for high-performance polyethylene. The term applies to the material used to make the gloves. HPPE actually encompasses a number of different materials, some of which are branded and trademarked.
Most versions of HPPE are very high in strength compared to their weight, making them thin enough to wear comfortably but strong enough to stand up against tough challenges. A very versatile category of materials, HPPE can be used to make a number of different items, but it’s a good choice for gloves in high-injury industries where cuts and abrasions are common, and hands need to be protected but mobility is key for job performance.
Why Are HPPE Gloves Categorized by Cut Resistance?
The level of cut resistance refers to what the gloves can withstand in terms of being penetrated by a tool or other sharp item. That is, the higher the cut resistance level, the less likely the gloves are to be torn or ripped by a knife, saw, or scissors.
Not all gloves that contain material made from HPPE are made entirely from HPPE. That is, some gloves have HPPE on the palms and backs of hands but different material in between the fingers, on the sides of the hands, or on the wrists. In other cases, the HPPE fabric is fortified with steel or another fiber that increases its strength and therefore its cut resistance.
When the gloves are made entirely from HPPE but not fortified by any other fibers, most of the time, the level of cut resistance is 3/B. When the gloves are made with HPPE fortified with steel or another fiber, their level can increase to 5/E cut resistance or higher.
What Types of HPPE Gloves Should We Choose?
If employees are working with heavy knives, scissors, or saws, the type of HPPE gloves chosen should be based on the likelihood of being cut by their tool of choice. In general, HPPE has a tensile strength that is 15 times higher than steel when compared by weight. HPPE gloves with a higher cut resistance level will be more protective in nature, but they are likely to be more expensive as well.
Businesses in some industries may choose to purchase HPPE gloves that only go as high as the wrist, while others may prefer to choose gloves that are long enough to cover the arms as well. When chemical abrasions are a risk, it may be more important to get as much HPPE coverage as possible, even choosing aprons and lab coats that are made with HPPE.
What Industries Require HPPE Gloves for Employees?
The hazard assessment of the industry and the particular tasks performed in different departments will determine whether or not HPPE gloves are required. If there is a relatively low risk of cuts or abrasions to the hands but hand protection is still helpful, gloves in general may be required but not HPPE gloves. If there is risk of the hands getting pulled into a machine or cut by a tool or chemicals, it is likely that HPPE will be required.
What Other Safety Requirements Can Protect Employees From Cuts and Abrasions?
In general, there are a number of different precautions that can protect employees from harm, such as these:
-Avoid wearing rings, necklaces, and other jewelry that dangles or is made of metal. This can protect employees from getting caught in machinery or electrocuted.
If there is a risk of any chemicals getting into the eyes, it may be required to maintain plumbed eyewash stations throughout the area.
If exposure to fumes could harm the skin or potentially be inhaled with negative results, masks and hazard gear may be required as well.
If getting splashed by chemicals is a risk, a shower may be required for rapid removal of those chemicals from the skin.
Often, thick pants, full coverage uniforms, and goggles and masks are kept in stock in industries where exposure to chemicals, fumes, or heavy machinery may put workers at risk.
Stay Stocked on Protective Gear
Especially in industries where there are many employees, different sizes, and lots of different items to keep in stock at all times, it can easily become overwhelming to manage the supplies.
The cost, too, can become unwieldy. Purchasing in bulk is often the best way to reduce costs, but it also means keeping hundreds, if not thousands, of a single item on hand and risking that it will not be used within the recommended timeframe for ultimate safety.
Alsco can make sure that employees always have access to what they need to stay safe on the job — in the right size, weight, thickness, and combination — without overwhelming the stockroom. Contact us today to find out how we can help with the management of supplies in any industry.