Glove use – getting it right

News today of a Manchester fireman has been handed a £5,000 payout after injuring himself putting on gloves at work!

Bosses at Greater Manchester Fire Service (GMFS) accepted the glove was ‘broken’ when the crew member sliced a tendon in his finger on a piece of stray fibre.

It seems like a joke, and perhaps in this case there was some doubt. However, glove selection and use is an important business and one which received only scant attention.

In the waste sector, standards of glove use is particularly poor. A failure to wear gloves when required, or the wrong type of glove – when several different types of glove might be required across a workplace – are common errors.

The high cost of some gloves and the frequency with which they have to be replaced encourages some to threaten charges or disciplinary action for worn or lost gloves. This encourages the use of gloves beyond their effective lifespan, even with defects, while employers risk damage to workers hands with or without additional skin exposure from poor quality gloves simply by selecting the cheapest possible unbranded supply.

Further errors apply in glove removal and storage – after removal contaminated gloves must be stored in a location that will not result in further contamination or hands or clothing, or of the workplace. Hands should be sanitised or washed after glove use, with the additional use of emollient hand creams if required to protect the skin of the hands from further damage. Handwash products must be of good quality and in plentiful supply, and must be used properly to be effective.

Blenkharn Environmental can provide advice and guidance on all aspects of worker and workwear hygiene and safety, including in particular the use of gloves in the workplace. Over the years, we have seen many errors and abuses, and have dealt with even the most reluctant staff, supervisors and directors, to improve hand hygiene and promote worker safety. With experience in both the health and waste sectors we thought we had seen it all. But never have we seen a tendon in a finger sliced by a fibre from a glove!



  1. Perhaps this is yet another example as to why gloves may not be the best solution for protecting ones hands. A simple latex glove in conjunction with a device or tool that affords the user critical stand-off distance between themselves and whatever they may come into contact might be a better option in many cases. Something to consider.


  2. I agree entirely, though for litter pickers and extreme clean teams the usual grab arms, grips and litter picking tools are sometimes of only limited value when retrieving discarded needles. Staff therefore resort to a gloved hand with all of the inherent risks.

    So, we need better gloves, bettere glove use, and better tools to facilitate safe working and to maintain that stand-off distance which keeps workers out of harms way.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.