Protecting workers’ hands to safeguard public sector contracts

By Steve Shale, Marketing Manager, Globus

It is important that work doesn’t stop on public sector building and maintenance contracts when staff are unable to perform their tasks due to injury or ill health. Employees who work on building or maintenance projects may be particularly susceptible to injury or occupation health issues.

Hands have a vital part to play to enable work to be carried out effectively yet they may often be overlooked. Subsequently, any resulting worker downtime while hands are injured or sore can adversely affect contract completion and new projects starting.

While gloves are an essential item of Personal Protective Equipment many workers remove them if they become uncomfortable or prevent intricate work from being undertaken. Without gloves the worker is undoubtedly at risk of injury when carrying out building and maintenance tasks. However, it is not just protection from injury that needs to be considered, hands also require protection from occupational health problems, such as dermatitis, irritation or other skin conditions.

Glove wearing is one of the most effective occupational injury prevention programmes. According to the Health & Safety Executive’s 2013-2014 statistics injuries and new cases of ill health resulting largely from current working conditions for workers in construction costs society over £1.1 billion a year. An employer should certainly evaluate all the potential hazards. For instance, hand protection can help to prevent cuts, puncture injuries, impacts, chemical burns as well as defend against temperature extremes and liquids.

Roofers, in particular, complain that materials slip out of their hands and the gloves provided don’t allow them enough dexterity to pick up nails and screws and perform more delicate tasks.

Scaffolders need gloves with good grip to prevent standards and bars slipping through their hands resulting in injury to themselves or others. For this task it may be beneficial to wear a glove with a reinforced latex palm.

Working with cement may cause direct irritation at the point of contact as the cement tends to dry out skin. Workers may also become sensitised due to the chromates present in cement.

Many workers claim that the gloves provided do not fit properly, are uncomfortable or wear out too quickly. Gloves which are too large can create folds which can impair work and be uncomfortable whilst gloves that are too small can restrict blood flow and movement which can motivate fatigue. It’s important that they allow the necessary dexterity to perform different tasks efficiently. A properly fitting and performing glove is less likely to be removed when performing tasks – this reduces risk and consequently aids productivity.

Glove technology has come a very long way in recent years and there is no reason for the gloves provided to be anything but fit for purpose. Advancements in fabrics and coating science mean that gloves can protect hands from cuts, puncture injuries, impacts, chemical burns, temperature extremes and liquid contaminants. However, hand injury issues can often result simply because the gloves do not fit properly or that inadequate choices are provided.

There are many hand protection solutions for building and facilities management, no matter what the task is. As well as choosing a glove that fits well and is suitable for the task, it is important that this provides adequate grip and meets any legislative requirements.

Commenting in relation to the benefits of wearing a glove specifically designed for outdoor construction workers, Brian Johnson, Managing Director of Halton Construction and Surveying Services Ltd said “The Showa 306 glove from Globus is having a really positive effect on my business. My team are out working on sites in all weathers and often complain about how their hands become uncomfortable in wet weather. Not only does the 306 overcome this, but it also stops their hands from getting sweaty in normal conditions. We are also getting far more wear from this glove compared to the previous ones.”

Globus is expert in hand protection and has a range of solutions designed to protect workers who not only work on site but right across industry. It is important to get specialist advice about glove selection for specific hazards to ensure the appropriate product is selected. This will help to protect the workforce from the start and can reduce the number of days off through injury or illness leading to increased productivity for public sector projects. Globus offers an obligation-free Hand Protection Programme to qualifying organisations to help ensure that a comprehensive hand protection policy is put in place.

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