Do you wear gloves when working with power tools?
Generally, I do, but not often these days, and recent blisters and scrapes can attest to that. I do like wearing gloves with high-vibration tools, such as oscillating multi-tools and hammer drills.
I should wear gloves more often, especially when handling materials. That would help with splinters, including a particularly large and nasty one a few weeks back, and small cuts.
But NEVER with stationary power tools that have moving or spinning parts.
Common convention seems to be that gloves are OK to be worn with handheld power tools, but NOT OK to be worn with stationary equipment.
Occasionally, a user manual or professional advice will instruct you otherwise, and should be followed.
With handheld power tools, you control the movements of the tool, often with two hands. With stationary equipment, you often control the movements of the work, tool, or positioning devices, and are exposed to fast-spinning parts.
The danger of wearing gloves with stationary equipment is that they can snag and wrap around a spinning bit, blade, or work. Should that happen, your hand – or worse – will be pulled into the danger zone, leading to bodily harm or even death.
A few years ago, a Yale science major died after her hair was caught in a large metal lathe. Loose long hair, neck ties, and loose-fitting shirts or sleeves are a big no-no for exactly that reason.
It’s easy to say “that wouldn’t happen to me,” until someday it does.
Think of all the table saw accidents. Nobody thinks or believes they’ll suffer an avoidable or accidental injury, until they do.
So with equipment such as table saws, drill presses, lathes, bandsaws, and other such tools, gloves should not be worn, unless a professional authority instructs you otherwise.
In some cases nitrile gloves might be acceptable, because they’re tight-fitting when properly sized, but they can’t be relied on to break if caught.
I’ve made “I don’t really need to wear that for this quick task” decisions in the past few months, and a deep cut by my achilles (I wore shoes for basement flood cleanup instead of boots), blister on my left hand (no gloves when using the hedge trimmer and rake for 4 hours), and various small cuts and scrapes convinced me not to take any unnecessary chances.
I plan to wear gloves more often for material handling and assembly work, while taking them off when working with or near fast-spinning machinery.
All this is my opinion – keep in mind that I’m not a safety authority, and that you should follow the advice of user manuals, OSHA, or other such safety authorities.
OSHA PPE Booklet (PDF) – this literature offers guidance on glove selection and use, as well as other personal protective equipment.
OSHA Amputation Avoidance Booklet (PDF) – this literature offers guidance on the different types of equipment you should not wear gloves around.
The common advice seems to be that gloves, loose-fitting clothes, jewelry, and unsecured long hair can increase the risk of accidental injury.
So, if your hands will potentially be exposed to fast-moving parts of any kind, take precautions as indicated in the equipment user manual, or other professional advisory authority.
A lot of this might come across as obvious, but it’s only obvious once you think about it, or read guidance in a user manual or similar. I regularly see forum questions asking whether gloves can be used around power tools or not.
My self-guidance is this: if I wear gloves, is there any way for them to entangle my hands in the equipment? If the answer is yes, I don’t wear gloves. If for whatever reason I do need to wear gloves, I build or employ guarding to block access.
I don’t wear gloves with handheld power tools as much as I used to – and should – and am working on that.
So – do you wear work gloves with power tools and equipment?