Monday, June 09, 2008

Whats in a Glove

The ergonomics of hand protection ...

"Achieving better hand protection through new glove manufacturing technologies.

It’s an age-old challenge for the glove manufacturing industry: making gloves that fully protect workers from potential hazards while not interfering with the work itself. Today, manufacturers are racing to create thinner, lighter, stronger and sleeker gloves that still stand up to on-the-job threats, from cuts and chemicals to vibration and slippery surfaces.

To do this, manufacturers must take advantage of the latest technological advances in the industry. They develop new materials, create layer combinations, experiment with coatings, develop new testing techniques – you name it, and the industry is trying to improve it. Occupational Hazards spoke to glove manufacturers to learn what they are doing to make sure workers – and their ten digits – are protected.
Putting an End to Vibration

When workers use jackhammers, sanders, grinders or other vibrating tools, they risk developing hand-arm vibration syndrome, a painful and disabling condition that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hands or arms. Workers need a glove that can protect them from vibration without being so thick it impedes their work.

Ergodyne found a solution with its patented polymer Nu2O2, which is used in the company’s line of ANSI-compliant anti-vibration gloves. The glove consists of neoprene and two layers of urethane, one of which is impregnated with oxygen bubbles. Ergodyne President and CEO Tom Votel likens it to a three-layer cake.

“The result is a glove that does not fit like a catcher’s mitt,” he explains. “It is thicker, but you are talking about workers who are exposed to really, really extreme vibration. These are guys using jack hammers, chippers, grinders or sanders all day long, so their exposure is significant. This provides a really nice protective solution for that worker, but is also reasonably dexterous.”

Of course, to avoid cumbersome gloves, you could always opt for air. The Air Glove line from Impacto contains a bladder of air inside the glove to attenuate and absorb vibration. Individual air chambers ensure that even if one section is punctured, the rest of the glove maintains its anti-vibration qualities.

“Instead of using thick gel or a thick foam pad, which can make gloves very bulky or heavy, we have a self-contained bladder of air within the glove,” says Eric Lehtinen, Impacto executive vice president. “It’s a network of individual air pockets that fit over the palm, fingers and thumb of the hand, which creates a barrier of air between your hand and the tool.”

Lehtinen says using thick gel or foam can make the glove heavy and hot, which can have a negative impact on worker safety. “One of the biggest complaints I get from workers who have to wear anti-vibration gloves is that they’re very bulky and they’re thick,” he says. “The advantage that the air glove has is that because it’s air, it’s a very light-feeling glove and doesn’t have a lot of weight to it, but still protects against the vibration."    (Continued via Occupational Hazards)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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