Loss Prevention 04 Jul, 2023

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): Gloves – “One Type Doesn’t Fit All”

Dean Crossley
Dean Crossley
Loss Prevention Manager

The significance of personal protective equipment (PPE) in guaranteeing the safety and well-being of seafarers cannot be emphasised enough. Among the diverse range of PPE available, gloves play a pivotal role in safeguarding hands from potential hazards encountered onboard ships.

Recently, the Club has observed instances of crew injuries where the gloves utilised were unsuitable for the task at hand, yet their significance as a key contributing factor to the accidents was not adequately identified in the vessels' accident reports. Consequently, it is imperative to understand the importance of selecting the correct type of gloves for different tasks, considering the wide range of variations available.

PPE encompasses a range of equipment, clothing, and gear worn by individuals to protect themselves from workplace hazards. It serves as a crucial barrier, preventing injuries and minimising the risks associated with occupational accidents. 

Gloves, as an integral component of hand protection, are specifically designed to safeguard against hazards such as cuts, chemical exposure, heat, and impact.


While one might assume that a single type of glove would suffice for all tasks requiring hand protection, the reality is quite different. The range of tasks performed onboard a ship varies significantly, each carrying its own set of risks and hazards. Therefore, selecting the appropriate glove type becomes a critical task that should never be overlooked.

Wearing gloves ill-suited for the specific job requirements exposes seafarers to accidents and injuries. For instance, using gloves designed for protection against chemicals in a situation where cut-resistant gloves are necessary can lead to severe lacerations or even amputations. Similarly, wearing gloves that do not provide adequate grip in slippery environments increases the risk of falls and resulting injuries.

To ensure effective hand protection, several factors should be considered when selecting gloves for a particular task:

  • Identify the hazards: Conduct a thorough assessment of the potential risks and hazards associated with the task at hand. Consider factors such as sharp objects, chemicals, extreme temperatures, electrical currents, or vibrations.

  • Evaluate the performance characteristics: Different gloves offer varying levels of protection and performance. Factors such as cut resistance, puncture resistance, abrasion resistance, chemical resistance, heat resistance, grip, and dexterity should be considered. Consult safety guidelines, industry standards, and manufacturer specifications to match the glove's performance characteristics with the identified hazards.

  • Understand glove materials: Gloves are manufactured from various materials, each with its own advantages and limitations. Common glove materials include latex, nitrile, neoprene, vinyl, leather, and Kevlar. Evaluate the properties of each material and select the one that best suits the task requirements.

  • Consider glove design and fit: Gloves come in different designs, including disposable gloves, reusable gloves, gauntlet-style gloves, and fingerless gloves, among others. Additionally, proper fit is crucial for optimal hand protection. Ill-fitting gloves can compromise dexterity, grip, and overall performance, leading to accidents. Ensure the gloves are the right size and properly fitted to the wearer's hand.

  • Seek expert advice: If uncertain about the appropriate glove type for a specific task, it is advisable to consult safety professionals, suppliers, or industry experts who can provide guidance based on their expertise and experience.

As an integral part of PPE, gloves play a vital role in safeguarding seafarers from various onboard workplace hazards. However, it is crucial to remember that one type of glove does not fit all tasks. Selecting and using the right glove type, considering the specific hazards and requirements of each job, is essential to ensure optimal hand protection and minimise the risk of injuries.

Members requiring further guidance should contact the Loss Prevention Department.