Hand protection is a rapidly growing sector of the personal protective equipment (PPE) industry. It currently accounts for, on average, 30% of a company’s PPE spend. Workers in many different fields in diverse roles rely on gloves to keep them safe from a variety of hazards. One-fourth of all workplace accidents involve hands and fingers. But luckily, wearing gloves reduces the risk of hand injury by 60%.
Workers in many roles need to wear gloves, but it isn’t always as easy to determine what gloves are best suited for their work. The following post discusses what questions/considerations you should have when choosing work gloves.
First, it is important to understand the categories of gloves. While there are many, this article will focus on leather, dipped, and cotton work gloves as they are the most common non-disposable types. Material is a crucial starting point when choosing the right glove as each offers its own benefits and drawbacks.
Leather gloves are considered a staple in many industries. They are made from animal hide/skin (typically cow, pig, and goat), are durable, and provide enhanced protection when compared to gloves of other material at the same rating. Leather gloves typically last longer than dipped gloves and come in several patterns that help serve different applications.
Dipped gloves are made from liners coated by polymers. They are a good option when doing work that requires dexterity, like assembly, machinery, or working with small parts. The various coatings (most commonly polyurethane, latex, and nitrile) and palm textures allow dipped gloves to enhance their cut and abrasion ratings as well as grip for diverse environments without sacrificing tactility. Dipped gloves are used across many industries due to the variety offered.
Made from natural fibers or a blend of natural and synthetic fibers, cotton gloves are affordable, highly absorptive, easily laundered, and protect against abrasion. Cotton can also protect materials handled from oils and sweat emitted by hands and offer all-day comfort for workers.
There are several types of cotton glove types including string knit, canvas, chore, double palms, jersey, inspector, terrycloth, and coated/dotted. In addition to the cotton glove types, there are also different designs:
Corded – These gloves have a ribbed feel and provide greater abrasion and grip resistance verse a standard woven glove. They can also come in both insulated and non-insulated to meet customer need.
Loop-In – These knitted terrycloth gloves are more comfortable due to their inward-facing loops. The material is smoother outside and offers enhanced abrasion resistance.
Loop-Out – These knitted terrycloth gloves have loops that face outward which increases heat resistance. They also offer increased breathability.
Nap-In – These gloves feature a fuzzy material on the inside which increases comfort and offers some heat resistance.
Nap-Out – These gloves feature a fuzzy material on the outside which allows for an increased grip.
All gloves can be used in any industry, but certain types are better for certain applications. We previously published blogs on both leather work gloves and dipped gloves that go into greater detail on their benefits and use-cases.
The second biggest consideration when choosing gloves is determining what protection they need to offer. The American National Safety Institute (ANSI) has created a rating system that lays out specific parameters gloves need to meet to attain a safety rating for a variety of factors. Europe has its own similar standard denoted by “CE.” Each component is measured by ANSI on a scale as follows:
Cut (A1-A9) – grams of weight needed to cut through the material. A1 gloves can withstand 200-499 grams while A9 can withstand over 6,000 grams.
Abrasion (0-6) – revolutions with a specified weight it takes to abrade the glove. Level 0 is 500 grams at < 100 revolutions and level 6 is 1,000 grams at > 20,000 revolutions.
Puncture (1-5) – resistance to force by a blunt object. Level 1 ≥ 10 n, while level 5 is ≥ 150 n.
Impact (1-3) – amount of force transmitted to the back of the hand. Level 1 is ≤ 9 kN, and level 3 is ≤ 4 kN.
Depending on the worker's industry and job role, the amount of protection needed may vary. For instance, someone working in glass handling may need high cut protection while someone working in the automotive industry may need gloves with more impact protection.
When a glove meets a certain rating, that information will be denoted on the tag or on the glove directly. At Pyramex, this information can also be found on our product sheets and in our latest catalog.
Other Important Glove Questions
Material used and ratings aren’t the only things you need to be taking into account in regard to gloves. There are a few other important factors that should be considered. Some questions to ask are:
What type of environment is the worker in?
Will they need insulated gloves?
What is the potential the gloves might get wet?
How much grip is needed?
Will workers be handling items of extreme temperatures? Are flames involved?
How long do gloves need to last?
Do gloves need to serve more than one function?
Does color matter? Do hands need hi-vis?
One way to ensure you choose the right gloves is to request samples from your distributor. Have workers wear these samples as they do their jobs. This will allow you to test the gloves in your actual applications and determine if they are comfortable and offer the right protection. Most gloves can be used in a variety of industries so worker preference can play a big part in your decision.
The Pyramex hand protection line continues to expand to create more gloves for individual worker needs and specifications. Still not sure what gloves to purchase? Let us help!