A good pair of gloves can make a world of difference when you’re working outside once the weather turns cold. Gloves are not only necessary to keep your workplace injury free, they help you feel more comfortable and focused on your work. But is your existing hand protection up to the task when the weather drops 10, 20 or more degrees?
Hand protection, and hand safety in general has different requirements to keep you and your team protected in extreme cold. To help you better understand and safety in cold weather we put together this guide with five helpful cold weather, hand safety tips.
Choosing the Right Glove Material
Moisture penetrating through your gloves or sweat building up inside them can ruin your day when the weather is even the slightest bit cold. It affects your body temperature, making you feel colder faster and causing your muscles in your hands to constrict, giving you less mobility and hand function. Moisture can also lead to frostbite and in extreme cases, hypothermia. If your workers operate in wet and snowy conditions, it is crucial for you to choose gloves made from the right material. If you operate in an area where wet and cold conditions are foreign to your operations the need for adequate hand protection when those conditions do occur is even more important, as your workers are not used to operating in those conditions.
To achieve optimal warmth and keep their hands dry, your workers’ cold weather hand protection should have three layers suited to your weather conditions:
1. Outer Layer
This layer should be made of a material with a high resistance to abrasion and water. It should also give your workers the optimum protection they need as they perform specific tasks. For instance, your workers can’t have gloves with overly thick outer layers if dexterity is vital to their job.
2. Middle Layer
The middle part of a glove is the insulating layer. As such, it should be made of a material that can trap a lot of air to provide the user with warmth.
3. Inner Layer
The inner layer is the closest to the skin, so its material should have moisture-wicking properties to keep your employees’ hands dry at all times.
Cold weather gloves manufactured with 3M Thinsulate™, for instance, provide some of the best cold weather protection on the market. These products provide adequate insulation and are made with a thin outer layer so as not to limit the user’s range of motion. Their inner layer has properties that wick sweat and moisture away, keeping your workers’ body temperature from dropping while working outside during winter.
Get the Right Glove Size
When it comes to hand protection, the proper fit is important, no matter the season. But during winter, an ill-fitting pair of glove not only lowers hand protection but also lowers body temperature. If your gloves are too big, more air enters to cool your hands inside them. A glove that is too small, on the other hand, limits movement and expose your hand to potential injury and the elements, leaving your wrist exposed during normal operations is not advisable and can cause a greater hazard in cold weather.
How can you ensure the right glove fit for your employees? Here are a few guidelines to help you:
1. Leave Some Room for the Fingertips
A properly fitting pair of winter work gloves should have a bit of room between the user’s fingers and the end part of the glove. The small pocket of air in that area traps warmth around the fingertips and helps the users keep a comfortable body temperature throughout the day.
2. Pay Attention to the Base of the Fingers
It is not a good fit if the glove is crammed on the base of your fingers. This only reduces the insulation, leaving the glove incapable of trapping air and warmth. As a result, your hands will feel cold in just a matter of minutes.
3. Cover the Wrist
Check if the glove extends down the wrist of the user. A good-fitting glove should provide enough coverage to avoid exposed skin in the area between the glove and the jacket.
In addition, before making any purchase from winter gloves suppliers, ask for a glove sizing guide. This guide can help you ensure that every member of your team has enough hand protection while working outside during the cold weather season.
Consider Palm-Coated Gloves
There’s nothing more frustrating while working in the cold than failing a simple task because of poor grip. If that has been an issue for you and your personnel, then it’s time you consider the use of palm-coated gloves.
Palm coatings add another layer of protection to gloves and give the user a stronger grip. Look for those made from PVC or nitrite as they provide such capabilities and won’t crack in cold weather.
In addition, palm-coated cold weather work gloves prevent water from absorbing through to the user’s hands. If your workers operate near water or get wet while performing their work, it is best to have them wear gloves with palm coatings. This way, the water won’t seep through their gloves, and their hands won’t feel cold.
Select Hand Tools for Winter Gloves
Your employees need to make sure they can handle tools properly with their gloves on to avoid accidents and repetitive strain injuries. So before sending them to their tasks, have them test their new gloves. Check if they feel comfortable wearing their new pairs and using different hand tools. If it’s possible, let them use only the tools that work well with their cold weather gloves.
Be Prepared for Hand Injuries During Winter
To further maintain hand safety during winter, you should train your employees to be aware of the symptoms of frostbite and other cold injuries. For instance, signs of frostbite include the feeling of numbness and tingling in the hands. Workers who experience these symptoms must get out of the cold and be treated immediately.
It is best if you have medical equipment and supplies on standby to help employees in case of medical emergencies. Supplies such as blankets and warm liquids can help manage cold stress or increase a person’s body temperature after being outside for hours.
Maintaining hand safety among your work force during winter isn’t as easy as buying the thickest pair of gloves you can find. If anything, you don’t want them to wear gloves that are so thick that these interfere with their dexterity and inhibit them while working on the field.
Make sure you select the best-fitting gloves for each of your employees based on his or her tasks. By creating a safe and healthy workplace during winter, you protect your employees — and yourself from injury, higher costs, possible lawsuits, and from potential losses due to non-productive time.
At Ringers Gloves we understand the hands of the people doing the work, and we work hard to make sure every one of those hands is adequately protected from the hazards associated with the job but also from the elements in which they work. Keep your hands safe and they will repay you with good work.