Definition – What does Abrasion Resistance mean?
Abrasion resistance in the context of personal protective equipment (PPE) refers to protective gear in work environments. More specifically, abrasion resistance is a sought-after property of certain synthetic fabrics that can act as a buffer against abrasive injuries at the workplace.
Abrasive injuries are a common hazard for workers in certain industry verticals, and this includes wounds that have a wearing-off effect on the upper layer of skin to the point where flesh is exposed, bleeding is common, and infection may be a risk.
HSSE WORLD explains Abrasion Resistance
Cement-laying, working with a grinding stone, paint-stripping furniture, and exposure to abrasive chemicals are various instances wherein a worker may be exposed to abrasion injuries and wounds to the hands or other parts of the body. Preventing abrasion wounds and injuries is mainly the domain of abrasion-resistant protective gear, including but not limited to gloves, mittens, and sleeves. Bearing in mind that common fabrics worn outside of the work environment are not particularly abrasion-resistant and are prone to wear and tear due to continued friction, the use of special synthetic fabrics to produce PPE is recommended by workplace safety organizations to prevent minor and major abrasive wounds among workers in varying industries.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) under the U.S. Department of Labor pays close attention to the abrasion resistance of protective gear for workers in its PPE manual. This manual recommends the use of special equipment and gear to protect workers against a variety of workplace safety hazards including abrasion wounds and injuries. The manual stresses the importance of protective gear produced from synthetic fibres such as Kevlar, aramid, and Cordura nylon that are known for their abrasion-resistant properties in varying degrees, primarily in the context of hand and arm protective gear.
Specific recommendations in this manual stress the types of safety gloves employers must consider for the prevention of accidents and injuries, taking into consideration varying risk factors. In the context of abrasion resistance, when there is a pronounced need for abrasion-resistant protection for the prevention of abrasion wounds to the hands or arms, OSHA recommends the use of appropriate gloves and sleeves made from synthetic fibres that have known abrasion-resistance properties. It must be noted that this manual also takes into consideration the caustic and abrasive effect of various chemicals and liquids used in the workplace that can lead to abrasion wounds and injuries, and it recommends the use of protective gear for the hands and arms accordingly.
For workers dealing with various chemicals and liquids with abrasive properties, OSHA recommends the use of gloves made from varying types of rubber including natural rubber, latex, butyl, nitrile, neoprene, and fluorocarbon, as well as a variation of plastics including polyvinyl chloride, polyvinyl alcohol, and polyethene.
Overall, OSHA makes effective recommendations for protective gear with abrasion-resistant properties and goes a step further to recommend that employers conduct periodic reviews of the effectiveness of any such gear in use and implement changes if necessary.