Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Safety Gloves and Chemical Clean Ups - What the Gulf Oil Spill Indicates For Safety Gear Usage

By Irene Test
At this point, the results and aftermath of the recent Gulf oil spill are devastating for the communities along the coastline and for the ecosystem in the ocean. Nevertheless, the cleanup efforts for the spill have indicated recently the importance of safety gear, particularly safety gloves and other protective clothing. Oil spills have not been studied in depth, and, as recent news stories have indicated, those cleaning up the residue of the oil along the coastline have experienced unusual symptoms.
Any oil being pumped contains a combination of itself and chemical dispersants, such as carcinogen benzene. Being exposed to these chemicals, particularly if workers are not using safety equipment, could be hazardous. In fact, 400 complaints have been logged by poison control centers in the Gulf region from those exposed to the oil. Additionally, heat stroke and related injuries have increased, especially from workers wearing full-body safety equipment.
Workers not wearing full safety gear could be a factor in the amount of poison control cases. Because the effects of oil and oil spills have not been studied in depth, few are aware of the immediate and long-term side effects of being exposed to chemicals like benzene. Benzene, in particular, irritates skin upon contact, and wearing fully protective safety gloves is an option for reducing immediate chemical-related injuries.
Not all safety gloves are ideal for handling chemicals, however. Safety gloves are divided into two categories: one for hand protection against punctures and abrasions and one for protection against chemicals. Certain types, such as PVC, are designed to be oil resistant and offer basic protection against chemicals. Butyl gloves, on the other hand, are designed specifically for chemical handling. These are known for having the highest permeation resistance to gas and water and are often used in chemical handling and haz mat work.