By Monica Ngage
Every day we wake up and go on with our daily hustles. Whether you are self-employed or employed; if not that you could be doing your daily chores in the house. But are we aware of the potential hazards that we expose ourselves to while executing our duties? Are there any precautionary measures in place to mitigate such risks?
You will agree with me that these measures exist but more often than not we tend to overlook them. Take for example an electrician, every day they risk getting shocks and burns from live wires; but this can be mitigated by use of electrical gloves.
Electrical gloves are used when working with high and low voltage applications to protect workers from shock, burns fires and explosions. To maximize their efficiency, they should be worn in threes; in the following order:
- Liner gloves–these are the normal gloves that we put on during the cold seasons. They reduce the discomfort of wearing rubber insulating gloves. Liners provide warmth in cold weather and absorb perspiration in the warm months. They can have a straight cuff or knit wrist.
- Electrical gloves-This is worn on top of the liner and are meant to protect the electrician from burns, shocks and explosions.
- Leather protector-they are worn over the electrical gloves to protect the gloves from swelling, tears, burns etc. It is important to note that the leather protector should always be shorter than the electrical gloves as shown on the diagram below
Electrical gloves are classified into two major classes:
a) Depending on the voltage that they can handle; the classes are shown in the table below:
|ASTM D120 Class Specifications for Insulating Rubber Gloves|
|Class Chart||Proof Test Voltage||Max Use Voltage||Label|
|Class 00||2,500 AC/10,000 DC||500 AC/750 DC||Beige|
|Class 0||5,000 AC/20,000 DC||1,000 AC/1,500 DC||Red|
|Class 1||10,000 AC/40,000 DC||7,500 AC/11,250 DC||White|
|Class 2||20,000 AC/50,000 DC||17,000 AC/25,500 DC||Yellow|
|Class 3||30,000 AC/60,000 DC||26,500 AC/39,750 DC||Green|
|Class 4||40,000 AC/70,000 DC||36,000 AC/54,000 DC||Orange|
b) Depending on environmental factors they are resistant to; based on this, the classes are as follows:
- A – Acid
- H – Oil
- Z – O-Zone
- R – Acid, Oil and O-Zone
- C – Very Low Temperatures
Rubber is susceptible to the effects of the ozone, which can cause cracking and compromise the integrity of the glove. Ozone cutting/checking is a series of interlacing cracks produced by the action of ozone on rubber under mechanical stress. If the gloves are used in an environment where the levels of ozone are high due to pollution, ozone resistance is critical.
Once the electrical safety gloves have been purchased, OSHA requires that “protective equipment be maintained in a safe, reliable condition.” This requires that the gloves be inspected for any damage before each day’s use. Gloves must also be inspected immediately following any incident suspected to have caused damage. OSHA also requires that insulating gloves be given an air test along with the inspection.
In addition to the daily inspection, OSHA requires electrical safety equipment to be tested regularly. Rubber insulating gloves must be tested before first issue and every six months thereafter. They should be inspected for tears, holes, ozone cuts, swelling which is generally caused by chemical contaminants and any other defect. The testing is supposed to be done by OSHA accredited labs. If the insulating gloves have been electrically tested but not issued for service, they may not be placed into service unless they have been electrically tested within the previous 12 months.
To help ensure the integrity of the gloves and worker safety, gloves need to be stored properly when not in use. Proper storage means that gloves must not be folded and need to be kept out of excessive heat, sunlight, humidity, ozone and any chemical or substance that could damage the rubber.
DO’S & DON’TS
- Follow company work procedures and safety rules
- Inspect gloves daily for damage
- Wear proper leather protectors over rubber gloves
- Wash gloves with mild soap and rinse thoroughly with water
- Let gloves air dry at room temperature or less than 120° F (49° C)
- Store gloves in a protective bag
- Wear jewelry or sharp objects when using rubber gloves
- Wear damaged gloves
- Store gloves inside out, folded, or ways causing stretching or compression
- Store gloves near sources of UV, Ozone or heat
- Allow gloves to contact petroleum-based products (oil, gas, solvent, hand creams)