A Unigloves Guide
Table Of Contents
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The UG Healthcare Group is one of the world’s leading glove manufacturers, as well as one of Europe’s most trusted providers of protective products and services.
From our four factories in Malaysia, we produce some 4 billion gloves a year, which are provided to the industrial and healthcare sectors by our group-owned subsidiaries across five continents. Our product offering ranges from value-for-money disposable gloves through to market-leading, premium-quality products of exceptional comfort, durability and performance.
Our UK sales and marketing office supplies Unigloves hand protection solutions to European wholesalers and retailers across multiple industry sectors. We take a partnership approach to customer relationships, helping you select the best products for you and your workplace.
What are the flat glass industry processes?
Flat glass, also known as float glass, is made by pouring molten glass from a furnace onto a bath of molten tin. The glass ‘floats’ on the tin bath and forms a perfectly smooth, distortion-free ‘ribbon’. Major manufacturers will produce miles of flat glass ribbon every day. The ribbon is of an even, predetermined thickness, which can range from as low as 1 mm to 25 mm. It is then cut into sheets, which can be up to 20 m2 in size.
The sheets are then stacked into loads of up to 25 tonnes and sold to companies that further cut and shape the glass into products for use in the construction, automotive and other industries. The main processes involved at this stage are cutting, edge working and toughening.
The cutting process can be the most dangerous, as operators are physically breaking the glass. Typically, a cut operator will handle around 1,000 pieces of glass a day.
In most applications, the larger volumes of glass are cut on an automated cutting table; the cuts are broken or snapped out manually; thus, there is a requirement for hand protection. Patterned glass sheets are in the main cut by hand; the cuts are then snapped by hand before the glass is stacked for further processing.
Edges can be quite sharp at this stage. Edge work processes include edge deletion arrissing, grinding, polishing, bevelling or CNC work – all of which require repeated handling and manipulation of the cut glass panes.
Next, the cut panes are fed by an operator through a washing machine. In most cases, they will then be handled again and re-stacked before proceeding to the toughening process. The toughening bed is usually loaded manually, though, in some instances, loading can be carried out using suction devices. Edges may not be as sharp at this stage, but care still needs to be taken when handling the sheets. Dexterity and good grip are paramount, as even a slight slip can cause scratches on the glass.
Primary hazards in flat glass processing
The flat glass industry is thriving, driven, in particular, by demand from the construction industry, including domestic new-build and commercial projects, and automotive manufacturing. As a wholly recyclable material with low emissions, it is sustainable and a key product in the low-carbon economy. Flat glass is also increasingly being used in the solar industry, which is likely to see the size of the market increase even further.
In such a dynamic sector, it is crucial to ensure robust health and safety systems are in place. Serious accidents can and do happen during the processing of flat glass. To avoid causing injuries to operators involved in the processing, handling and loading of flat glass, suitable and sufficient training, instruction and supervision must be provided. In addition, appropriate protective clothing, including gloves, should be worn whenever glass panes are handled manually.
The main risk to workers in flat glass processing operations is from cuts. Sharp edges on the glass sheets can cause lacerations to the hands. In the worst case, fingers may even be severed. Stabbing or puncture wounds from broken glass or shards can also occur, as can abrasions and scrapes. Mechanical hazards posed by moving machinery – such as those used in cutting and edge-deletion processes – are also a concern, as they can lead to crushing injuries or even amputation.
Risks to the glass itself during handling, loading and storing must also be considered. Good grip and dexterity when handling the glass sheets are essential, as even the slightest slip can cause scratches on the glass, rendering it unusable. Coated glass needs to be manipulated especially carefully, in order to avoid damaging the sensitive coating.
Cut, puncture & abrasion protection solutions
In flat glass processing, workers risk sustaining cuts or abrasions from sharp-edged or broken glass while cutting or handling glass sheets. These sheets can be up to 25 mm thick, and the thicker the glass, the sharper the edge. It is important, therefore, that hand protection worn by workers is made from cut-resistant material that is appropriate for the task. For example, moving and handling very sharp-edged sheets will require gloves with a higher cut resistance than the more dexterous work of cutting the glass.
Grip protection solutions
Glass is obviously an extremely fragile material and must therefore be handled with great care. Good grip is paramount, to prevent the glass from slipping or being dropped. Dexterity is also a requirement, so it is important that the material of any gloves being worn is not too thick. In the flat glass industry, workers will move and load hundreds of sheets of glass a day. Taking such care when handling the sheets can be tiring, so reducing the risk of fatigue while ensuring both hands and materials are protected is another key consideration.
Non-marking protection solutions
Other key things to avoid in terms of protecting the glass itself during handling are smudges, finger marks and, especially, scratches. Even hands wearing gloves can leave latent, fingerprint-like impressions on a smooth surface like glass, so it’s important to choose gloves that are non-marking – particularly as it can be extremely costly to remedy marked glass. Latex, rubber and vinyl can all leave residues behind, while fabric gloves (which should only be used where cut protection and grip are not required) can deposit lint.
Unigloves has a range of solutions for handling glass that ensure washed glass remains mark-free.
A leading manufacturer of sealed units in the glass industry trialled Unigloves in its pre-production department to review the levels of hand protection provided for operatives loading raw glass onto machinery and during the arrissing process, among other tasks.
In comparison with previous gloves, the operatives rated the Unigloves product “much better” for grip, dexterity, comfort and protection. Comments included: “very comfy to wear”; “don’t fall to bits like previous gloves did”; “way better than the others”; “better quality and lasted longer”.
To help you determine the best glove solution for your needs, Unigloves Hand and Arm Protection Survey (HAAPS) is a personal service to help companies improve safety, productivity and cost-efficiency by choosing the most suitable gloves for their workplace operations.
Use the link above to arrange for one of our glove experts to visit your site and conduct a glove survey on work areas and activities that require hand protection.