Protecting Your Hands this Spring

Kent McGuire – OSU CFAES Safety and Health Coordinator

As we prepare equipment for planting season, start to apply anhydrous ammonia, and eventually begin work in the field, take a moment to consider the importance of protecting your hands.  When it comes to hand protection, hazards can vary drastically by work task. These hazards can include chemical burns, electrical dangers, abrasions, cuts, impact with objects and exposure the extreme temperatures. Therefore, picking the right hand protection is extremely important. There are a variety of things to consider when choosing appropriate hand protection. This includes working with sharp metal parts, chemicals, extreme thermal conditions and the need for dexterity for job tasks. During the selection process there are a few questions that can be used to identify the proper glove selection. These questions can be based on the potential hazard.

- Are chemical hazards present?
-What form is the chemical in: liquid, gas, powder, or vapor form?
-Are the hands subject to light splashes or immersion into chemicals?
Check the label of the chemicals being worked with. A warning or recommendation of all personal protective equipment should be located on the label.
Cuts / Punctures / Abrasions
- Is there the potential for cuts and punctures from sharp objects? 
- Will abrasions or punctures likely occur to the palm, top of the hand, or fingers?
Many gloves are designed to protect from abrasions and even offer some protection from slashes caused by sharp objects. Few provide high levels of puncture resistance.
Grip or dexterity
- Is a secure grip vital to the application?
- Are wet or oily material surfaces present?
- Is dexterity important?  Is sensitivity to handle small parts or objects quickly needed?
- Which characteristic is more important: protection or dexterity?
In most cases, thinner-gauge gloves offer more dexterity, while heavier-gauge gloves offer greater hand protection. Special coatings on gloves can provide the desired dexterity and a certain level of protection.
Extreme Heat or Cold
-Will the gloves be required to offer protection from heat or cold temperatures?
- What is the length of exposure time to these temperatures?
Insulated gloves should be selected to protect from extreme temperatures. For some tasks, such as welding or torch work, specialty gloves designed for that task should be used.
Size of Gloves
- Are the gloves properly sized for the user?
Too large of gloves will slide around on the hands, provide minimal protection and could become caught in machinery or moving parts. Gloves that are too small can decrease dexterity and become uncomfortable.
For more information about the OSU Ag Safety visit or contact Kent McGuire, OSU Agricultural Safety & Health, at or 614-292-0588.