How to Comply with Hand Protection Requirements

Date First Published on SafetySmart Compliance: February 17th, 2012
Topics: PPE |

OSHA hand protection requirements are contained in Section 1910.138 of the General Industry regulations. Here’s an overview of the requirements and how to comply with them.

OSHA Hand Protection Equipment Requirements

Unlike many other types of PPE, there are no specific ANSI Standards that manufacturer’s can use to design hand protection. The OSHA Standard simply requires that you base the selection of the appropriate hand protection on an evaluation of the performance characteristics of the hand protection relative to the task(s) to be performed, conditions present, duration of use and the hazards and potential hazards identified. Such hazards may include skin absorption of harmful substances, severe cuts, lacerations or abrasions, punctures, chemical and thermal burns and temperature extremes.

There are no specific standards for hand protection under the Construction Industry Standards.

Selection of Hand Protection

Gloves are commonly used in many workplaces and come in a number of types, styles and materials. They include traditional gloves that cover the hand, “gauntlet-style” that also cover the lower arm, or finger cots that protect only the fingertips. Glove materials range from leather for protection against scrapes and help with gripping objects, Viton for chlorinated and aromatic solvents, and Butyl for gas or water vapors. Glove vendors can help with the matching process.


Gloves Protecting Against Physical Hazards: These hazards include cuts, burns, abrasions rough objects and punctures. They also help a worker get a better grip on an object. The gloves you might choose for physical hazards range from a simple leather or canvas glove such as might be worn during typical construction tasks to a metal mesh that provides good protection from sharp objects.

Other types of gloves manufactured for typical physical hazards include coated gloves that usually have a cotton base and some type of coating that provides good slip resistance and some limited protection from punctures from slivers. These types of gloves are not designed for heavy duty work and won’t help if your workers need really durable protection.

Gloves Protecting Against Chemical Hazards: These gloves are either made from a rubberized material such as butyl, neoprene or nitrile or some type of plastic such as polyvinyl chloride or polyethyelene. Some gloves even offer both in a blend or a laminate. Chemical-resistance gloves are not very flexible and make performing fine motor tasks more difficult, but they are essential when a worker has to handle chemicals that might get on their hands. Some of the more common types of chemical hazard gloves and their uses include:

  • Butyl (synthetic rubber) – these gloves provide good protection against corrosives (acids and bases) as well as ketones;
  • Latex (natural rubber) – these are very thin gloves that are a good overall work glove as they work well with corrosives and ketones. Some workers are allergic to latex so an alternative may need to be provided such as hypoallergenic gloves or glove liners;
  • Neoprene (synthetic rubber) – these gloves are good for hydraulic fluids, gasoline and other petrochemicals, alcohols and some bases. Many employers have replaced latex gloves with neoprene; since they are synthetic, allergies are not as much of a problem and they tend to wear better; and
  • Nitrile (polymer) – these gloves provide good protection against chlorinated solvents, oils, greases, caustics and alcohols and are thin enough to help with fine motor tasks. They are not good for aromatic solvents and strong oxidizers.

Other Forms of Hand Protection

Other forms of hand protection include:

  • Mitts, similar to gloves, but which have a thumb/fingers divider;
  • Finger cots, single finger/fingertip protection;
  • Thimbles, protect thumb/thumb and first two fingers;
  • Hand pads and palm protection;
  • Sleeves and forearm cuffs which protect wrists and arms; and
  • Barrier creams to protect the skin, either alone or with other hand protection