Choose the Right Gloves and Protect Your Hands from Sharps

The term 'sharps' refers to the various needles and syringes used in medicine, and it's a potentially dangerous category of equipment. Although the piercing injuries that can be caused by needles are unpleasant, it's unlikely to be serious in itself, but the problem comes after they're used.

Since sharps are used for various injecting or blood-taking procedures, there's a high risk of contracting infectious diseases if pricked by a used one. For that reason, there are strict systems in place to ensure they're used, kept and disposed of safely.

All sorts of people might need to handle used sharps – not just medical professionals. Cleaners and other personnel often find themselves in contact with these materials, so it's important to ensure they have the right equipment to protect themselves. Here's how to choose the right gloves for handling sharps.

Finding suitable gloves

First of all, you should look for gloves that are intended for the purpose of protecting against needle injuries. This will most likely be reflected in the name, and will certainly be mentioned in any description. However, don't take the name or description on its own as proof of a glove's effectiveness. Manufacturers sometimes make claims that don't exactly reflect reality, so it's important to be on guard against misleading statements.

Check the rating

Luckily, there's a rating system in place for protective gloves. This is a government scheme based on the similar one in place in Europe, and it's a much more reliable way to evaluate the suitability of a particular type of glove.

Look for gloves bearing the standard AS/NZS 2161.3:1998. These have been tested and rated for protection against mechanical risks, including cuts and abrasions. This will be accompanied by a rating for each type of hazard, possibly alongside a symbol depicting that hazard, and a letter that represents it.

For punctures, the letter D is used and the rating goes from 1, the lowest, up to 4. For handling sharps, you want the highest puncture rating available, preferably 4.

Different materials

There's a variety of materials used in making gloves puncture resistant, and it can be difficult to choose. You'll probably find that many of them are Kevlar, which is a good choice as it provides reliable protection in a relatively thin glove. You may also see glass yarn, steel mesh, and various trademarked and patented materials. Just make sure the safety standard rating is present. You should also look for protection that covers the entire glove, not just the palm, as injuries can occur all over the hand.