Q: What kind of gloves are best for stick welding?
A: Welding presents various hazards, many of which specifically put the welder’s hands at risk. According to guidelines from both OSHA and ANSI, gloves used for any type of welding must protect the hands from the follow six hazard categories:
- Electric shock (using non-conductive materials)
- Ultraviolet radiation
- Cuts, scrapes, and impact
For stick welding, gloves should be flame-resistant, kept in good repair, dry, and capable of preventing electric shock from welding equipment.
Depending on the specific task, a glove with built-in protection for the back of the hand may be required, such as a pad or protector. Different seasons may also call for different gloves, as a summer welding glove may not be suitable for work outdoors during the winter, for example. It’s also important to consider whether the gloves you intend to use have design features (such as reflective strips) that could potentially catch and hold sparks or cause hot spots or burns.
As welding is often performed in inclement weather (rain, snow, fog, high humidity, or damp), gloves must be made of non-conductive materials.
(Learn more in controlling-hazardous-fume-and-gases-during-welding/.)
Make sure you look for gloves that meet the legislated requirements. If your welders are contractors who supply their own PPE, your company should have standards in place that require them to meet regulations, standards, and codes, as well as any company rules that are outlined in your own policy and procedures.
In order for workers to actually use the gloves effectively, they need to not only be compliant, but also comfortable, warm, able to wick away sweat, and well-fitted. One size does not fit all, as a welder has to be able to do several tasks, including:
- Raise and lower the welding helmet or helmet shield
- Use a hand-held welding shield
- Use a chipping hammer, electric grinder, air tool, or impact chisel
- Use the “stinger” and clamp and un-clamp the ground
- Handle a welding rod
- Use clamps, locking pliers, vise-grips, and other small hand tools
- Mark work with chalk or crayon-style marking sticks
- Move jigs or move the work on jigs or welding tables, machinery, or pipe
- Maneuver work into position and add or insert pieces of metal into position (gussets, tabs, braces, plates, etc.)
Overall , welding gloves are a critical part of the PPE ensemble required for this type of work. A comprehensive hazard analysis is required before choosing a particular product, and the ones that came in the box when you bought the welding machine may not meet all the needs your exact analysis requires.
There are great manufacturers and distributors out there. Spend some time researching their products, and consider involving the welder that has to use what you buy in the selection process.
Lastly, remember that welding gloves, like any other PPE, require training in their use, inspection and care.
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