How to Layer Flame-Resistant Clothing (And When You Should Do It)

Selecting and using flame-resistant (FR) clothing can be fairly simple. But when you add layering to the mix, it gets a lot more complex.

That’s why we’ve created this mini-guide, which will help you understand why it’s beneficial to layer FR clothing, how to determine the overall arc rating of the layers, and what you should consider before you start layering.

Why Use Layers?

There are a few reasons why workers might prefer layering their FR clothing rather than wearing one heavy piece that meets the required arc rating.

It’s More Comfortable

For jobs that require a high degree of protection, flash suits and heavy outwear usually do the job. But workers often find that these restrict their movement and are far too hot to wear in warm work environments.

Layering fixes this problem by allowing workers to wear several lighter, more breathable garments that wick away moisture, control odors, and allow for greater mobility.

It’s Good for Workers Doing Varied Tasks

About 67 percent of all tasks at typical industrial companies are ranked at HRC 2 or below. This means workers are sufficiently protected by their primary layer of FR apparel. Layering makes it easy for workers to don a coverall that boosts the protection to HRC 3 when moving to a higher exposure task, then remove it again when returning to their regular duties.

Layering Tends to Increase the Arc Rating

When tested together, layered FR garments often have a higher arc rating than the sum of the individual pieces.

If that sounds like we’re saying 2 + 2 = 5, it’s because there’s more than just the clothing itself at work. Layering FR garments creates a layer of air between each item, which tends to boost the overall protection.

Determining the Arc Rating of Layered Clothing

Unfortunately, calculating the total arc rating of your layers isn’t as simple as adding the arc rating of each garment together. For example, if you have a light FR jacket with a rating of 8cal/cm2 and an FR shirt underneath with a rating of 4cal/cm2, the total arc rating isn’t necessarily 12 cal/cm2.

To determine an accurate arc rating, the layered garments must be tested together in the order that they are worn. As mentioned above, in many instances the layered clothing will have a higher arc rating than simply adding the sums together.

Your Guide to Layering Flame-Resistant Clothing

If the job requires an arc rating of more than 4 cal/cm2 (hazard risk category 1), you should consider using layers to achieve the required protection.

Here’s what you need to know to layer your FR clothing for maximum safety.

1. Make Sure the Base Layer Is Non-Melting

If your base layer (the one closest to your skin) is arc rated and made of non-melting fabric (and it should be), then it will contribute to the total arc rating of your layered FR clothing.

This layer can also help you keep cool, so opt for a close-fitting garment that wicks away moisture and controls odor.

2. Consider the Material

There is a wide variety of FR material available now, so workers have some choice when it comes to the fabric their garments are made of. Review the following factors when selecting your flame resistant PPE:

  • Level of protection
  • Whether the flame resistance is inherent or chemically applied
  • Cost
  • Durability
  • Comfort and mobility
  • Care requirements
  • Availability

3. Review Tasks to Determine Layering Needs

In many instances, workers who require PPE with a high arc rating don’t need it all day. In fact, sometimes it’s just necessary for one task. Planning ahead allows you to determine what level of protection workers need and when they need it.

Once you have an idea of this, you can decide what type of layers work best so that workers remain sufficiently protected when they shed layers that are no longer needed. Generally, you want to aim for enough protection that it meets standards, but not so much that it creates discomfort.

4. Always Choose a Flame-Resistant Outer Layer

No matter how many FR layers you have underneath, the outermost layer must always be flame resistant. The outer layer is the first one to be exposed to arc flashes, and flammable fabric will ignite easily and continue to burn, negating the FR effects of the layers underneath.

5. Don’t Forget About Visibility Requirements

Some workers require their protective gear to be both flame resistant and hi-vis. As per the 2015 revision to ANSI/ISEA 107-2015 standard for High-Visibility Safety Apparel and Accessories, apparel that’s labeled as flame resistant must meet one of these recognized standards:

  • ASTM F1506 or ASTM F1891 for electric arc protection
  • ASTM F2733 for flash fire protection
  • NFPA 2112
  • NFPA 1977

A Few Final Words

It’s not difficult to find a garment that will meet your worker’s required level of protection. But things get tricky when it comes to layering.

Safety professionals need to brush up on the standards and verify that layered garments provide the right amount of protection. It’s also important to educate workers, so they know when they know when they can safely remove certain layers and when they need to put them back on.

Though this requires extra effort on the part of safety professionals and supervisors, the increased comfort that comes from layering means an increased likelihood that workers will comply with their protective clothing requirements.

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What You Need to Know to Keep Your Hands Safe from Chemical Exposure

Protecting workers exposed to chemicals is critical, and especially when it comes to the hands that come in contact with hazardous chemicals on a daily basis. Employers should know what products are available in the marketplace and how to make the right choice to keep their workers’ hands safe.

Know Your Chemicals

Choosing the best hand protection starts with knowing a thing or two about the chemicals used in your workplace. It’s important to know, among other things:

  • What effect they have when they come in contact with exposed skin
  • How they are used in your workplace
  • How they are transported across the worksite
  • How are stored
  • What gloves will provide the most effective protection for workers who have to handle these chemicals

And it’s important to take all chemicals into account. Chemicals are used in so many business applications that we often forget to take them seriously as a safety hazard, whether it’s the paint used in automotive manufacturing, the chemicals used to create pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, the pesticides and fertilizers used in agricultural operations, the cleaning products used to wipe down surfaces or clean the floors, or the industrial-grade chemicals used in emergency clean-up operations. Just because you’re not dealing with a highly corrosive acid doesn’t mean you can afford to overlook the risks they pose.

OSHA PPE Requirements

Selecting the right PPE is a complex process and should be made part of your overall safety program. Employers should take into consideration a variety of factors, including:

  • Identifying all known hazards
  • Specifying their pathway for exposure
  • The performance requirements of PPE that is to act as a barrier to chemical hazards

OSHA notes that the specific degree of protection afforded by any given PPE will be material-hazard specific. What this means is that some protective material will be adequate to protect against some substances but could be ineffective at protecting against another. In fact, some chemicals are so strong that manufacturers have yet to discover a PPE material that will last through continued uses. It’s important, therefore, to provide replacement PPE as needed, according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Matching the PPE to the employee’s work requirements and task-specific conditions takes into account the durability of the materials, such as tear strength and seam strength, as well as weather, temperature, and other site-specific conditions. In some cases, layers of PPE may be necessary to provide sufficient protection during the work day.

Considerations When Combining Chemicals

When considering PPE choices for handling and transporting chemicals, you will need to look beyond the chemical itself and also consider how it will react with other chemicals used on your job site. Be sure to also consider the PPE itself, since the chemicals might react to the protective gloves’ materials or coating. Nitrile, for instance, provides good protection from lubricating oils but not acetone, a paint remover. Neoprene is a good choice for many pharmaceutical agents but ineffective against methylene chloride, another common paint remover.

Any time you get a prescription from the pharmacy, your pharmacist will tell you what to avoid combining with your medication. It’s the same with chemicals used on the job: potentially mixing chemicals adds increased complexity to your PPE choices, and sometimes pose a serious risk to workers. Consult a qualified chemist to learn the proper use and the right protection for workers.

This same chemist will also be useful in identifying possible reactions to chemicals on the skin and instructing you on how to treat accidental exposure. When dealing with chemicals, have measures in place to quickly and effectively deal with skin irritation, rashes, and chemical burns.

The costs associated with this is serious business. In 2014, there were 33,600 reported incidences of recordable occupational skin diseases, carrying an estimated price tag of $1 billion in the U.S. alone. These incidents range from chemicals being absorbed by the skin and causing damage to it to chemicals attacking the nervous system, reaching the bloodstream, and potentially causing organ damage.

What to Look for in Protective Gloves

Chemical PPE gloves and materials are evaluated and rated on three characteristics:

  1. Penetration: how much chemical moves through the product material on initial contact
  2. Permeation: how much chemical seeps through over time
  3. Degradation: how fast the material physically changes after exposure

If your workers will be handling chemicals frequently or for a long period of time, make sure to get gloves with good permeation ratings. And if the degradation rating indicates that the gloves will not last very long after exposure, keep a stock of replacement gloves on hand.

Improving Comfort

Workers expect comfort, performance, and protection in a pair of safety gloves. Comfort may seem like a frivolous luxury, but it should be treated as a serious safety feature. If gloves are uncomfortable or make it too difficult to do the job tasks required, the worker will to tempted to remove the them or ignore other safety requirements in order to work comfortably.

Some non-permeable gloves can be protective but make the workers’ hands hot, sweaty, and uncomfortable, making it hard to finish work that requires dexterity.

Today’s workers do not have to choose between comfort, performance, or protection. Through new technologies, materials and creative approaches, glove manufacturers are finding new and better ways to address the many needs of the worker without compromising protection from potentially dangerous chemicals.

Significant improvements in moisture management, either with the glove itself or in combination with a liner, add comfort as well as the ability to move and perform work. Gloves that improve grip are always valuable, and layering remains a viable option in many cases. For example, wearing cut-protection gloves under chemical gloves, or thermal management gloves under or over chemical gloves. These simple solutions can address the PPE challenge of protection and comfort.


The list of protective measures in work environments can sometimes get complicated. When faced with uncertainty to questions, employers should reach out to the experts for assistance. The leading manufacturers always offer qualified and professional advice about how to stay compliant and keep your workers safe.

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Hurricane Preparedness

As Hurricane Florence barrels her way towards the East Coast (specifically, here in Wilmington, NC where NASP is headquartered), it is a severe reminder of Mother Nature’s deadly wrath.  As is the case with any pending emergency, do not wait until the last minute to take action. The following are tips on how to prepare before, during and after a hurricane or other major disaster:

What to do as storm approaches

— Download an application to your smartphone that can notify people where you are, and if you need help or are safe. The Red Cross has a Hurricane App available in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store as well as a shelter finder app. A first aid app is also available.

— Use hurricane shutters or board up windows and doors with 5/8-inch plywood.

— Bring outside items in if they could be picked up by the wind.

— Clear gutters of debris.

— Reinforce the garage door.

— Turn the refrigerator to its coldest setting in case power goes off. Use a cooler to keep from opening the doors on the freezer or refrigerator.

— Fill a bathtub with water.

— Get a full tank of gas in one car.

— Go over the evacuation plan with the family, and learn alternate routes to safety.

— Learn the location of the nearest shelter or nearest pet-friendly shelter.

— Put an ax in your attic in case of severe flooding.

— Evacuate if ordered and stick to marked evacuation routes if possible.

— Store important documents — passports, Social Security cards, birth certificates, deeds — in a watertight container.

— Have a current inventory of household property.

— Leave a note to say where you are going.

— Unplug small appliances and electronics before you leave.

— If possible, turn off the electricity, gas and water for the residence.

List of supplies

— A three-day supply of water, one gallon per person per day.

— Three days of food, with suggested items including: canned meats, canned or dried fruits, canned vegetables, canned juice, peanut butter, jelly, salt-free crackers, energy/protein bars, trail mix/nuts, dry cereal, cookies or other comfort food.

— A can opener.

— Flashlight(s).

— A battery-powered radio, preferably a weather radio.

— Extra batteries.

— A first aid kit, including latex gloves; sterile dressings; soap/cleaning agent; antibiotic ointment; burn ointment; adhesive bandages in small, medium and large sizes; eye wash; a thermometer; aspirin/pain reliever; anti-diarrhea tablets; antacids; laxatives; small scissors; tweezers; petroleum jelly.

— A small fire extinguisher.

— Whistles for each person.

— A seven-day supply of medications.

— Vitamins.

— A multipurpose tool, with pliers and a screwdriver.

— Cell phones and chargers.

— Contact information for the family.

— A sleeping bag for each person.

— Extra cash.

— A silver foil emergency blanket.

— A map of the area.

— Baby supplies.

— Pet supplies.

— Wet wipes.

— A camera (to document storm damage).

— Insect repellent.

— Rain gear.

— Tools and supplies for securing your home.

— Plastic sheeting.

— Duct tape.

— Dust masks.

— An extra set of house keys.

— An extra set of car keys.

— An emergency ladder to evacuate the second floor.

— Household bleach.

— Paper cups, plates and paper towels.

— Activities for children.

— Charcoal and matches, if you have a portable grill. But only use it outside.

What to do after the storm arrives

— Continue listening to a NOAA Weather Radio or the local news for the latest updates.

— Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has ended.

— If you evacuated, return home only when officials say it is safe.

— Drive only if necessary and avoid flooded roads and washed out bridges.

— Keep away from loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company.

— Stay out of any building that has water around it.

— Inspect your home for damage. Take pictures of damage, both of the building and its contents, for insurance purposes.

— Use flashlights in the dark. Do NOT use candles.

— Avoid drinking or preparing food with tap water until you are sure it’s not contaminated.

— Check refrigerated food for spoilage. If in doubt, throw it out.

— Wear protective clothing and be cautious when cleaning up to avoid injury.

— Watch animals closely and keep them under your direct control.

— Use the telephone only for emergency calls.

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Breathe Easy: Implementing the New Silica Standard

Taking a breath should not be a life-altering decision. OSHA’s new standards for respirable crystalline silica have been released and are in effect for Construction as well as General Industry and Maritime. Initially, the standards were released on June 23, 2016, but industries had one to five years to comply. As of the writing of this article, those deadlines have passed with a couple of exceptions (medical surveillance must be offered to employees who will be exposed at or above the action level for 30 or more days a year starting on June 23, 2020; hydraulic fracturing industries have until June 23, 2021 to comply with regulations about engineering controls).

The new standards require employers to limit worker exposures to respirable crystalline silica and to take other steps to protect workers. This includes determining the amount workers are exposed to if it is at or above the action level of 25 μg/m3, and protecting workers when exposures are above the PEL of 50 μg/m3, averaged over an 8-hour day. Also addressed in these new standards are rules for: providing respirators, establishing and implementing a written exposure control plan, restricting housekeeping methods, offering medical exams, training, and keeping records.

For the Construction standard, employers have the choice of either measuring workers’ exposure to silica and independently deciding on appropriate, effective dust controls, or using a control method given in “Table 1” from the Construction standard. Table 1 provides effective dust control methods matched to common construction tasks. For example, a handheld power saw can be used with water (“wet cutting”) to control silica dust. If employers use Table 1 correctly, they are not required to measure workers’ exposure to silica.

The General Industry and Maritime standards do not address specific tasks and methods of control as the Construction standard does with Table 1. This means employers are required to measure workers’ exposure to silica to determine what method of control should take place. In addition to the previously mentioned use of water as a dust control, a local exhaust ventilation system (e.g., vacuum) can remove silica dust at or near the point it is created. Enclosures that isolate the work process or worker can also be used as a method of dust control.

However, numerous industry groups have complained that the new standards are too stringent, claiming that there is no distinguishable difference in reducing health risks between the previous exposure level and the new exposure level of 50 μg/m3. These groups also question whether OSHA has “substantial evidence” that the new rules are economically and technologically feasible for the industries affected. Although these industry groups took legal action, the Court rejected the challenges, reasoning that each of OSHA’s conclusions was supported by either substantial evidence, a reasonable explanation, or a combination thereof.

So, now employers are required to address the hazards of respirable crystalline silica by providing protection and proper controls to ensure workers can take a breath without worry.

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No Falling Down on the Job: Walking-Working Surfaces Rule Update

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration implemented a final rule which updated its general industry Walking-Working Surfaces standards specific to slip, trip, and fall hazards (29 CFR 1910, subparts D and I). The rule also included a new section under the general industry Personal Protective Equipment standards that establishes employer requirements using personal fall protection systems (29 CFR 1910, subpart I). Most of these new standards had professionals scratching their head asking, “What does all of this mean?”


The Long and Short of It

The new ruling applies to ALL general industry workplaces and covers ALL walking-working surfaces, including surfaces such as floors, stairs, roofs, ladders, ramps, scaffolds, elevated walkways, and fall protection systems.



Changes in the regulations allow employers to choose from a vast array of accepted fall protection systems. This change allows the elimination of guardrails as the primary fall protection method and empowers employers to be flexible with determining which method works best under their specific work conditions. The refreshed provisions now dictate the requirements for performance, inspection, use and maintenance for personal fall protection systems. Gone are the days that general industry has to refer to the outdated GI Scaffolding standards. Under the more relevant construction scaffolding standards, employers can now choose from a variety of fall protection options.


The Clock is Ticking

When released, some regulations were implemented immediately, while others were given a more relaxed timeline. The compliance date is looming for the implementation of fall protection on existing and newly installed fixed ladders. On November 19th of this year, all new or existing fixed ladders of more than 24 feet must have some sort of fall protection installed, which may include cages or wells. However, the costs associated with implementing cages or wells may be frivolous, as all cages and wells must be replaced with personal fall protection systems by 2036, so it is important to weigh all available options when retrofitting existing ladders.

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Last HAZWOPER TRAIN-THE-TRAINER Course for 2018 Aboard the Battleship USS North Carolina

Anyone involved in environmental clean-up or HAZMAT emergency response will benefit from this intensive, week-long Train-the-Trainer Course held on the Battleship USS North Carolina on November 5th through the 9th. In addition to covering the various elements of the HAZWOPER standard, you will experience hands-on, practical simulations to meet the experiential requirements of the regulation. Click here to register for the last of these courses held in 2018.

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NASP is Going to the NSC Congress & Expo in October

This year, NASP employees will be attending the National Safety Council Congress & Expo in Houston, TX October 22nd-24th. This is the world’s largest gathering of safety professionals and expected attendance is anticipated to be over 15,000. We are excited about the variety of excellent speakers, the diverse topics to be discussed and the hundreds of exhibitors that will be on hand, including NASP. This will be the first year that NASP has set up an exhibitor booth, and we encourage you to come by and say “hi.” We are located at booth #5043 so you may meet with some of our staff and discuss any of your safety-related needs.  We urge you not to miss this event. Click on this link for details.

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National Safety Council offers steps to stay safe during Hurricane Florence

 Families are urged to put together an emergency supply kit and develop an emergency plan

As Hurricane Florence intensifies, the National Safety Council (NSC) is urging those on the East Coast to monitor the storm’s path and heed government warnings.

Florence is expected to hit the East Coast as a Category 4 hurricane with sustained winds of 130 miles per hour later this week, according to the National Hurricane Center. The Council says those impacted by Tropical Depression Gordon need to be especially aware of potential flash flooding.

Nearly 60,000 weather events resulted in almost 600 deaths and more than 4,200 injuries, the Council said. Flash floods, tropical storms, and heat waves were the cause of most deaths.

Ahead of the impending storm, the NSC is urging families to develop emergency plans and safety kits. Emergency plans should include several methods of evacuation and places to shelter, while supply kits should contain the necessary supplies to sustain a family for at least 72 hours.

Severe weather safety tips


The Council offers the following tips for staying safe in hurricanes:

  • Board up windows and tie down loose items like patio furniture.
  • Establishing a meeting point for family members in the event that you become separated and pick one person everyone can contact their whereabouts.
  • Shelter in sturdy buildings. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures, open areas, hilltops, the beach, or boats.
  • If you are driving in heavy rain, try to exit the road, stay in the car and turn on the emergency flashers.
  • Don’t drive into flooded areas. If flood waters surround your car, abandon the car and go to higher ground.
  • Avoid touching electrical equipment, cords, metal, and water.
  • Listen for sirens, stay away from windows and outside doors, and seek shelter in a bathroom or basement.
  • Stay indoors until authorities say it’s safe to go outside.

To stay safe during flash flooding, the NSC offers the following tips:

  • Know your distance to rivers, streams, and dams.
  • In heavy rain, stay away from underpasses, underground parking garages, and basements.
  • Never walk in water above your ankles — you could be swept off your feet in as little as 6 inches of rushing water.
  • Shut off the electricity and other utilities.
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5 Key Things to Know About Flame Resistant Clothing

Flame resistant (formerly known as flame retardant) clothing is a piece of specialized personal protective clothing required in many workplaces.

FR clothing is used in occupations that involve inherent risks of fire or explosion or contact with energized electrical equipment. Industries and occupations that use FR clothing as a final method of control these hazards include:

  • Electricians
  • Electric utility repair and maintenance
  • Refineries
  • Pharmaceutical and chemical work
  • Paper and pulp manufacturing
  • Food processing

If you or your employees require FR clothing to carry out work safely, here are some key things that are worth knowing.

Flame Resistant Clothing Works by Being Self-Extinguishing

Flame resistant material is, by definition, self-extinguishing material. Unlike conventional fabrics, it will not fuel a fire. Rather, it will starve a fire by preventing the entrance of oxygen through the material.

Some Materials Are Naturally Flame Resistant

Some manufacturers make products that are naturally flame resistant and do not need to be chemically treated to be classified under the FR standard.

Typically, natural fibers like wool and silk do not melt and are difficult to ignite, which makes them good candidates for FR gear. The tighter and heavier the wool, the more fire resistant it is.

Some synthetic fibers, like polyester and nylon, are also more difficult to ignite. However, once they catch on fire, they tend to melt. As with wool, the tighter the weave, the more flame resistant the fabric.

One advantage to inherently flame resistant fabrics is that they are engineered to be flame resistant for eternity. Since their FR properties are incorporated at the molecular level, they offer fire protection that doesn’t wash out or wear out. The clothing remains flame resistant regardless of its length of use.

Other Fabrics Can Still Be Made Flame Resistant

Other natural fabrics, like linen and cotton, can ignite easily and result in a rapid spread of flame. But they can be treated with chemicals that will extinguish the flame.

Alternative manufacturers make clothing that is treated with a compound at the final stage of production. This compound will chemically extinguish fire or flame by depriving it of the oxygen it requires to keep burning.

One downside to these treated fabrics is that their FR properties will degrade over time and offer less and less protection as UV exposure, abrasions, and washing erode their performance.

Another concern is that the chemical FR treatments applied to fabrics like cotton can have negative environmental effects. For example, the effluents produced in the process could find their way into and contaminate the natural environment.

Flame Resistant Material Can Be Toxic

A common question about flame resistant clothing is “Is it toxic?”

The answer isn’t always straightforward, but chemical FR treatments applied to fabrics such as cotton regularly present serious environmental concerns.

Currently, the largest marketed FR group is brominated flame retardants (BFR). BFRs are the largest distributed products worldwide due to their combination of high effectiveness and low cost.

Approximately 75 BFRs are presently recognized; however, some of these have been removed from the marketplace since the 1970s following incidental poisoning due to ingestion, which demonstrates the toxicity of those specific BFR classes. Tris-BP, for instance, was originally included in the manufacturing of children’s clothing but was quickly removed following discovery of its mutagenic and nephrotoxic effects.

Today, you can still find diphenyl ethers, cyclooctane’s, and brominated bisphenols representing the largest major BFR classes. In day-to-day living, these classes are also widely used as additives or reactive components in polymers such as epoxy resins and foam, as well as products like electrical equipment, computers, and electronics.

Lots of Considerations Go into Picking the Right FR Clothing for a Job

There are several considerations that come into play when purchasing or using FR clothing. After assessing the risks and becoming familiar with the job tasks the user will be performing, start by considering the following:

  • Which style and weight of FR garment is more suitable and practical for the worker?
  • What arc thermal performance value (ATPV) is required? This value outlines the performance of FR material when it is exposed to electrical discharged. It is expressed in cal/cm2, with a larger number representing a greater degree of protection.
  • Does the FR product meet safety standards and regulatory requirements?
  • What is the life expectancy of the garment? How soon will it have to be replaced?


This information will help you make an educated choice when it comes to FR clothing, but it’s not the end of your search. Investing the time and money required to do the research and select the right products will ensure durability, comfort, and (most importantly) confidence that you’re getting the protection needed.

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Beyond Gloves: 7 Things to Do to Keep Your Hands Safe at Work

Your hands are used in just about every facet of your work and daily life. But they’re also one of the most exposed and vulnerable parts of your body.

Whether you spend all day writing reports and e-mails or whether you handle materials and use construction tools after punching the clock, keeping your hands safe should be a priority.

The most obvious way to protect your hands is with the right PPE. Every worker engaged in hazardous work should wear safety gloves suitable for the job. But gloves are your last line of defense and a lot of other measures should be in place to keep your hands safe (for advice on selecting the right hand protection PPE, see 12 Types of Hand Protection Gloves).

In this article, we’ll go over seven important things you can do to keep your hands safe at work.

1. Conduct a Hazard Assessment and Job Safety Analysis

Conducting a hazard assessment is the first step in identifying tasks that put our hands in danger. It allows us to take the time to review equipment for pinch points, note material that may be jagged or become splintered, identify extremely hot and cold surfaces, and list potential sources of chemical exposure

Once it’s completed, the hazard assessment should be communicated to the exposed workers on an annual and intermittent basis in order to spread awareness and help cultivate safety culture.

A job safety analysis (JSA) is the next step in communicating hazards to workers. These are often conducted by a foreman or supervisor, who lists each task and provides a step-by-step process to safely execute it. The JSA should provide a methodical means to eliminate or mitigate exposure to hazards and identify when, which, and where proper safety gloves shall be worn (learn 4 Steps to Conducting Effective Job Safety Analyses).

The JSA should be communicated and reviewed before starting each new task and intermittently after that. Workers should be encouraged to assist and comment on the JSA as their feedback is invaluable in the creation and maintenance of this living document.

2. Engineering controls

Before donning safety gloves, we should ask ourselves if we can eliminate the hazards completely. If it’s not possible to eliminate all hazards, then we should consider whether engineering controls could be implemented. These controls help us reduce exposure by modifying the processes, equipment, and materials involved in the work (learn more about The Hierarchy of Hazard Controls).One example of this is machine guarding. A machine guard is a protective barrier to prevent workers from making contact with hazardous energies created by moving machinery.


3. Mitigate Ergonomic Risks

Ergonomic risks are often overlooked because their negative effects are not immediate. But ergonomic and repetitive strain injuries are far more common than many suspect.

Workers who regularly repeat tasks, use forceful exertion, or are exposed to vibration and sustained awkward positions are at risk to ergonomic injuries.

Enlist an ergonomic specialist to assess your workplace and help you implement a repetitive strain prevention program.


4. Proper Tool Use and Care

All tools should be inspected prior to use, serviced regularly, and the workers using them should receive formal training on their proper use. Refer to owner’s and operator’s manuals to determine maintenance and servicing intervals.

Generally, the responsibility for inspection lies with the supervisor. However, workers who use tools and equipment daily should also inspect them before starting their work. As soon as any problems are discovered, the tool must be removed from use and tagged. The tag should read something along the lines of “Defective – Do Not Use.”

The misuse of tools and equipment is a frequent cause of injuries. It’s often assumed that everyone knows how to use common hand tools, but this assumption can lead to injury.

Employers and supervisors have a responsibility to ensure that all workers are trained and competent in the use of the tools and equipment in their workplace. Training programs can be created internally and reviewed periodically throughout the year (consider these 6 Ways a Permanent, In-House Safety Trainer Can Benefit Your Organization). They can also be communicated to new hires during orientation. Companies can also look to external training providers to assist then in delivering training to their employees.

The training program should pay close consideration to all equipment and tools, no matter how mundane the task. Every employee, no matter how much experience or seniority they have, should be required to participate. This training is an opportunity to make sure that fundamental safe practices are fresh in everyone’s minds.

5. Safety Data Sheets

To help protect against exposure, employers must inform workers of the specific chemicals used in the workplace and provide access to the corresponding safety data sheets.

Employers and safety committees should make a list of controlled products onsite available to employees. The list should be reviewed and updated as new products come in or old ones exit.

The safety committee and supervisor should review the safety data sheets and draft a list of PPE required to safely handle the products.

6. Foster a Safety Culture

A successful health and safety program starts with a positive safety culture. Every company should encourage and promote safety from the moment a worker starts their shift right until the moment they clock out at the end of the day.

Employees respond well to a positive safety culture and well communicated policies and programs. They are more apt to follow safe work procedures, use the PPE supplied, and report hazards to their supervisors.

With a positive safety culture, every employee – both new and seasoned – knows that safety in their workplace truly is number one. Supervisors and management should be encouraged to attend the same safety training as their workers in order to lead by example and communicate the value of these initiatives (see Workplace Safety Culture 101 to learn more).

7. Ensure Proper Housekeeping

Construction debris tends to be irregular in shape and hard to handle. It can also be full of sharp edges. Making sure it gets cleared away helps prevent injuries.

A low standard for housekeeping can wear down the morale of workers but it can also lead to cluttered pathways impeding material handling equipment and thus increasing the need for manual handling.

Employers should provide ample disposal systems for the various types of degree created over the course of a regular work day. Materials should have nails, screws, and sharp edges bent over or removed, and employers should promote daily post-work clean up tasks.


Wearing gloves that give your hands ample protection is essential to keeping them safe. But it’s not enough. By looking beyond the glove and implementing various other measures to mitigate risks, you can be confident that you or your employees will make it through the day with their hands unharmed.

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