Gloves and Hand Protection for Welding
In the world of welding, besides our eyes our hands are the most important tools we have in our personal tool bag. Taking care of our hands is just as important as taking care of her eyes so, just like we need to have the proper safety glasses on our face, we need to have the proper gloves on our hands as well. Before we pick out the proper gloves, we need to make sure we understand the potential hazards that there could be, so we understand what they should protect us from. ANSI Z49.1 contains information about personal protective equipment and other safety gear in and around the welding and cutting industry.
The hazards to our hands in the welding world are numerous. We can have our hand smashed or crushed if they get caught or pinched between two objects. We can cut our hands from exposure to sharp edges and other jagged surfaces. We can burn our hands from red hot metal, sparks and other hot flying metal. Gloves also protect our hands from the bright light and ultraviolet radiation that is emitted from the welding arc. There are other chemical hazards and cleaning agents that we come in contact in the welding world as well. And finally, there's plenty of grease, grime, dirt and dust in and around metal surfaces.
Knowing what your hands will be exposed to will help you select the best glove for each application. Depending upon the welding process we use, will also influence the type of gloves that we use. Gas tungsten arc welding tends to use lighter gloves with thinner materials in the fingers for more sensitivity, but they offer the least heat resistance. Gas metal arc welding gloves have more insulation in the fingers, but not as much is the heavier gloves used for shielded metal arc welding and flux core arc welding. Air arc cutting, flux core arc welding and shielded metal arc welding are going to create the highest demand for hand safety of the welding and cutting processes.
Leather seems to be the most durable and reliable choice for welding gloves. The weather themselves can come in many different types. Cowhide, pigskin, sheepskin, deerskin, and other types of leathers are not at all uncommon. The cowhide and pigskin gloves tend to stand up to more rough use, sharp edges, as well as heat. On the other hand, the sheepskin and deerskin tend to be more supple and more sensitive then the cow and pig type leathers. We see those a lot in gas tungsten arc welding gloves were sensitivity is one of the key factors in glove construction.
Gloves cannot give us much protection if our hands end up in the wrong place and get crushed or squeezed between two surfaces that we cannot remove our hands from. Also care should be taken, even with the best gloves, around sharp objects. It's not uncommon to see a very sharp piece of sheet metal out of the back of a shear or some other piece of equipment that slices right through the best of gloves. Protection against heat just depends on how much insulation and how many layers of protection exist in the gloves.
It's important where that heat insulation is placed as well. There does seem to be much heat protection on some gloves within the palm of the glove where sensitivity can be compromised. Heat protection is more important on the outside of the hand, in the fingers and knuckles, and up outside of our wrist is where the real heat protection needs to exist and be present if it is going to protect ourselves against high welding arc temperatures and exposure to hot flying metal. Keeping dust, dirt, rust and grease off of the leather gloves will help extend their lifespan and give us a better grip and feel.
If we find that the hazard were trying to protect ourselves against is some type of liquid chemical or cleaning agent you will have to consult the proper tables to make sure that we have gloves that are made out of the proper materials to resist the chemicals we are working with. Making sure there are no holes or cuts are also important things to check for.
Just like a good pair shoes can make all the difference, having the right kind of gloves, the right size and type, will make your job much more enjoyable and you may have the opportunity to make a few better welds.
Check out the Longevity website (www.longevity-inc.com) or YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/longevitywelding) for more details and information about equipment for different welding and cutting processes. Longevity has the right machine and equipment for your exact application, so take a look and choose what is the best fit for your materials, product and needs and application.