Anti-vibration gloves as PPE?


In this video, Teli Chinelis discusses the use of anti-vibration gloves as PPE and how the HSE advise that anti-vibration gloves cannot be relied upon to provide protection from vibration.

Anti-vibration gloves can be legitimately sold in Great Britain as PPE for protection against exposure to hand-arm vibration.

The unsuspecting purchaser could therefore be forgiven for thinking that if they have purchased a glove described as ‘anti-vibration’, there is a guarantee that the glove will provide effective protection against vibration.

However, the Health and Safety Executive, in its guidance to the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005, advises employers that anti-vibration gloves cannot be relied upon to provide protection from vibration.

When a glove is used, factors such as the physical characteristics of the wearer, their different postures and varying grip and push forces will affect how much vibration is transmitted through the glove material.

The transmission can be very different for different types of power tool, depending on factors such as the speed of rotation of rotary tools such as grinders, or the number of impacts per second for impulsive tools such as demolition hammers.

These factors affect the main frequencies of the vibration coming from the tool and they can change depending on how the tool is used. In general, an anti-vibration glove is more likely to reduce transmission of higher frequencies than lower frequencies. The many variables affecting how a glove responds mean that it is practically impossible to predict how a glove will perform, but they also mean that there is ample opportunity for the conditions under which the glove amplifies, rather than reduces the vibration, to be met.

Increasing the thickness of the glove may lead to additional problems for the wearer for example by affecting manual dexterity and this may have safety implications. A thicker glove may also mean that the wearer has to exert more force to be able to carry out the usual work and this may, in turn, lead to increased fatigue. Research has shown, however, that any increase in the thickness or softness of the glove material would be likely to have a negative effect in terms of transmission to the fingers.

The most recent version of the standard test for an antivibration glove contains normative Annex B, added in 2019, which includes requirements to make it clear that gloves are, for the most part, unlikely to provide any real protection against vibration.

In terms of legal requirements, the Control of Vibration at Work Regulations 2005 do not mention anti-vibration gloves. The only mention of PPE is a reference to the provision of clothing to protect against cold and damp.

As a result the simplest advice, as given by the Health and Safety Executive, is that gloves cannot be relied upon to provide any benefit and that they may in some situations, have adverse effects. Gloves can, of course, be used to keep the wearer’s hands warm and dry, which is beneficial for maintaining good circulation, but anti-vibration gloves may not be the most suitable gloves for this purpose.

If you would like further information in relation to the use of anti-vibration gloves to control occupational vibration, then please contact Finch Consulting and we‘ll get back to you as soon as possible.

01530 412777 or email [email protected].

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