When on an oil and gas worksite and around chemicals, drilling fluids, grease, cleaning agents, additives and hydrocarbons, dermal absorption remains a major health and safety concern. Personal protective equipment (PPE) is key to reducing the risk of absorption of hazardous materials.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) estimates that hand contact is a significant route of exposure. Therefore, proper glove selection is key to mitigating the risk of absorption. The factors to evaluate include the type of chemical, the nature of contact, and the concentration and temperature of the chemical. The perfect glove combines thermal protection limits along with chemical barrier qualities matched to physical requirements, for example puncture and tear resistance of the gloves paired with grip and dexterity requirements of the job. Combining gloves with overalls, coveralls, bibs and aprons provides a more holistic protection against the dermal absorption of chemicals and additives.
Along with wearing proper gloves and protective overalls, as needed, care should also be taken to thoroughly wash hands before eating, smoking, or using the bathroom after using gloves that were exposed to chemical agents of some type. Significant quantities of chemical residues can be absorbed into gloves and possibly through them, if not using the proper glove for the required application.
PPE such as overalls, coveralls, bibs, and fire-resistant clothes should also be laundered or disposed of if exposed to high levels of chemical agents. If using a washer at home, it is always best practice to separate this type of work clothes from other family laundry and then run an empty load cycle afterwards to wash any residue from the washing machine before it is used again by others.