Solution Summary: Anti-Vibration Gloves
Anti-vibration gloves are an PPE that may help reduce hand-arm vibration. Vibration is reduced by the viscoelastic material or air pockets in the palm and fingers of the gloves.
Different kinds of anti-vibration gloves are available from various manufacturers. Manufacturers have developed different kinds of anti-vibration gloves for different tasks (for example operating heavy equipment such as an excavator versus hand-held tools such as a jackhammer) (Figure 1, Figure 2). Purchase gloves applicable for your task.
To properly reduce vibration, the glove must provide full-finger protection. Fingerless gloves still allow contact with the vibration source and should be avoided. Also, anti-vibration gloves should keep the hands and fingers warm when used in cold environments. Make sure to purchase gloves that are compliant with the Hand-Arm Vibration Standard ISO 10819-1996 or ANSI S3.40-2002.
Figure 1. Ergodyne (R) Proflex anti-vibration gloves
Figure 2. CLC 172 Safety Storm anti-vibration gloves.
Hand-arm vibration can cause musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) such as muscle strains; tendonitis, which is inflammation of elbow and wrist tendons; or carpal tunnel syndrome, which is compression of a wrist nerve, resulting in finger numbness and loss of hand strength. The anti-vibration gloves can help reduce hand-arm vibration by creating a buffer that absorbs vibrations transmitted to a worker's hand/arm from a vibrating tool, equipment or piece of machinery.
How Risks are Reduced:
Anti-vibration gloves reduce the frequency and intensity of vibration (average acceleration) transmitted from tools, equipment, or machinery. Padding or air pockets in the palm of the glove absorb the vibration. The glove prevents some, but not all, of the harmful vibration from reaching the hand and arm. Therefore, anti-vibration gloves should not be used to increase the exposure time to harmful vibration frequencies or to exceed recommended exposure limits. In general, it is best to use tools, equipment, or machinery with the least vibration for the shortest daily exposure time, rather than solely relying on anti-vibration gloves to limit exposure.
Safety and health experts believe anti-vibration gloves will help to reduce hand-arm vibration because their effectiveness in reducing hand-arm vibration has been well documented in the literature. Many independent published studies have shown that these gloves reduce the likelihood of developing a vibration-related MSD. Workers using anti-vibration gloves also experience fewer hand-arm vibration syndrome and carpal tunnel syndrome symptoms. Health and safety experts believe that any reduction in exposure to hand-arm vibration could be beneficial in preventing new cases of hand-arm vibration syndrome.
The manufacturer states, “The palms and fingers are specially designed to absorb vibration energy, helping you stay steady throughout your workday.” Another manufacturer states that their gloves “reduce vibration energy up to 90% … [offering] more hand protection than other gloves”
Effects on Productivity:
There is no evidence to indicate that anti-vibration gloves affect productivity.
There are many different kinds of anti-vibration gloves available from a variety of manufacturers designed to reduce different vibration frequencies. Be sure to purchase gloves designed for the task they will be used for. While fingerless anti-vibration gloves are available they do not reduce vibration to the same extent as full finger gloves.
Dan Anton, PT, PhD, ATC; and Kaya Mills, SPT – Eastern Washington University