Many types of work require you to wear personal protective equipment. Most people think of safety goggles, fire-resistant clothing, and hearing protection. However, hand protection is just as important for when you are working around materials that could cut you. Things like glass and metal could be very sharp.
You can purchase cut-resistant gloves, which should be worn when dealing with those sharp materials. It’s important to understand that these gloves have different levels of resistance. OSHA uses the level ratings to establish appropriate safety protocols guidelines for the various work environments and industries in which people work.
Learn about the five levels of cut-resistant gloves:
Cut resistant gloves with a Level 1 rating are for low-risk jobs, such as cuts from handling glass, paper cuts, and healthcare needs. They are often made with latex or leather for a latex-free design.
Usually, office workers use these gloves when dealing with a lot of papers where fine motor skills of the hands aren’t necessary. Healthcare workers who could get cut while handling a patient may also wear them.
Generally, though, these gloves are most suitable for caterers and some areas within the food industry. For example, if you regularly cut fruits and vegetables or handle glass, you may want these gloves.
You want to choose a glove that gives maximum protection while still allowing you to move your hands and fingers comfortably. Agility is often a concern, so you’re focused on that, but you still want a little extra protection.
Level 2 cut-resistant gloves can protect you for low-rate cut hazards that are common in the automotive, construction, assembly, and manufacturing industries. Cotton and leather are often used as materials, but some products use a blend of Kevlar, Spectra, or something else.
Consider this level of cut resistance when you routinely work with sheet metal and other metal products. You may be moving them from one area to another, but you’re not stamping or otherwise altering them. Construction workers who may have to deal with sharp objects can also use them. They’re often worn when you’re on the job and for most of the day to protect against the risk of getting cut.
Those in the auto repair industry can also wear Level 2 cut-resistant gloves for various applications. They’re often thinner and easier to maneuver, which means you can still work with your hands as needed.
Anyone who handles glass can also wear the Level-2 glove. Also, it works well when you’re chopping food.
When you choose a Level 3 cut-resistance level, the cuts you could sustain are considered moderate work hazards. This includes working with glass and any metals that have sharp edges. Often, synthetic materials are used and can be mixed with Kevlar and other cut-resistant materials.
If you work at a recycling plant or salvage yard, you’re regularly around metal and can’t be sure that it is safe. Therefore, a Level-3 cut-resistance can protect you from cuts. Electricians often wear these gloves, as well. When you’re stripping wires or cutting anything, you need to protect your hands.
Often, people choose a Level-2 or Level-4 or higher, so you may find it challenging to find Level-3 cut-resistance. It’s okay to select the next level up if you’re worried about safety.
If you choose a Level-4 cut-resistant glove, Kevlar is likely used, though there are other brand names. These gloves work well for work environments that regularly cut things or have higher hazards. For example, manufacturing and food production, sheet metal production, or metal stamping may all require this level of protection.
When you’re dicing and slicing vegetables, meat, and fruit, you may wear them, as well. Generally, they work well in high-heat, high-chemical, and high-moisture environments. Of course, those working in recycling plants, salvage yards, and doing electrical work can also wear them. Construction workers may find that this level of protection is plenty.
Level 5 cut-resistant gloves are the strongest on the market. They often use Kevlar, metal mesh, and other material combinations to provide you with the highest protection level possible. This reduces the risk from accidentally getting cut. Such gloves are used in almost any industry you may find yourself, including the food service industry, meat and poultry cutting, butchery, automotive, pulp and paper, glass production, and many others.
Construction workers can also use this level of protection, as well as iron-workers, miners, rescue workers, and riggers. If you’re at a higher risk of getting lacerations or cuts, you want a level-5 cut-resistance.
Is Cut-Resistant the Same as Puncture-Proof?
It’s hard not to get a false sense of security from your cut-resistant gloves. Remember that they aren’t puncture-proof. If you were to stab yourself in the hand, the knife is sure to go through. Therefore, no cut-resistant gloves on the market can protect from getting stuck from a syringe. You can find puncture-proof gloves on the market, and this might be something to consider if you are worried about such things.
Not 100 Percent Effective
Regardless of the ANSI listing or the cut-resistance level, no gloves on the market can guarantee 100 percent protection. Therefore, you’ve still got to be careful and work safely around sharp objects. However, an accidental slip while holding a metal object with a cut-resistant glove can reduce your risk of getting injured.
Some cut-resistant gloves use coatings to boost protection. However, they aren’t suitable for every single work environment. For example, the coatings might not be food-grade-safe, which means they could contaminate food if used to cut poultry, meat, vegetables, or fruit.
When you must work with potentially-dangerous materials, it’s a good idea to have the right personal protective equipment. Your hands are the most vulnerable after the face, so it is imperative to choose cut-resistant gloves. Many types of work require them, and it is important that you know which ones do and the right level of protection you need. While they can’t be 100-percent effective, they do reduce the risk of cuts or abrasions. Therefore, it’s a good idea to have and use them while working with various items at the workplace.
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