Gloves. When it comes to personal protective equipment (PPE), they’re certainly not the biggest purchase that’s made and they sure don’t cover a lot of square footage on the human body.  They do, however, help prevent the 25 percent of all workplace accidents which involve hand and finger injuries.

In a study conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), statistics revealed that 70 percent of the workers who suffered hand injuries in manufacturing operations were not wearing gloves. Among the remaining 30 percent, injuries occurred because the hand protection was ill fitting, damaged, or not suitable for the application.

Proper choice and implementation of gloves (and PPE in general) are critical elements when it comes to  employee engagement and motivation, which in turn is the most important factor in a safe work place.  The gloves workers wear seems like a small decision in the overall scheme of things, but small details have a big impact on the safety and performance of a business.

Choosing the right PPE (and glove specifically) makes employees more productive, sure, but it also has psychological benefits. When workers feel confident about their safety, they respect their employers and recognize the value they have to the company. They feel cared for and taken care of.

When it comes to gloves, or any other personal protective equipment, choosing wisely improves productivity, worker wellbeing and overall workplace health and safety.

A recent case study conducted with an oilfield company illustrates this precise point. The company was spending $3 per pair for leather work gloves and replacing them almost daily- amounting to costs between $2,000 - $3, 000 per month. Workers were getting a lot of pinch points, puncture wounds, cuts and abrasions. As hand injuries became frequent and costly, the Health and Safety Engineering Specialist, Christopher, sought out  gloves that would be more suitable to protect his workers from the grave risks they encountered daily. Ultimately, the company swapped out their leather work gloves, for highly engineered anti-impact gloves – gloves that easily cost four times the amount of the leather ones. Can this really be cost effective? You bet.

There was an immediate change reported in the working life. That same Health and Safety Engineering Specialist, Christopher, received over 20 suggestion cards from his team in just month, sharing stories of instances where the gloves saved their hands. One report in this case study recounts a frightening incident, where the gloves literally saved a man's hand from crushing. As workers were rolling a piece of pipe on the table, it caught one person's hand between the rack. The pipe weighs 2,800 lbs. "We took the gloves off; he had no bruising, no broken bones, no torn ligaments .He walked away. Had he not had those gloves on, it would have changed everything. His injury, plus $15,000 to $20,000 to fix his hand, lost time of up to 20 weeks off work... worker morale. The gloves work. They work."

This kind of incident happens often in the difficult, arduous and often dangerous tasks many of today’s workers face. If investing in the proper PPE can help reduce injuries, it’s imperative that everyone in the role of selecting and purchasing PPE for a company is well educated in what options are available.

When it comes to gloves, or any other personal protective equipment, choosing wisely improves productivity, worker wellbeing and overall workplace health and safety.

Joe Geng 
Vice president, 
Superior Glove Works