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Choosing The Right Work Gloves

Wearing Construction Safety Gloves. Contractor preparing for a job.

What are the right work gloves for your trade?

Think gloves are gloves? Think again. It’s an increasingly important safety consideration to know what level of protection is offered by the gloves your work crew wears. It’s not just about how well they fit or how long they last. Do they fit the needs of your application? And is there a way you can tell what their protection or cut resistance level is?

Generally speaking, heavier gloves tend to offer more protection from abrasion, heat and cuts or punctures, while lighter weight gloves can reduce fatigue and provide greater dexterity. Gloves that feature a coating can be more chemical resistant and give the wearer a surer grip when working with slippery materials.


Use The Right Glove For The Application

When you’re in construction, investing in personal protection comes with the territory. Keeping your hands safe from cuts, burns and chemicals is part of the job. In order to choose the right gloves, we must first understand the nature of our work and the risks associated with each specific task.

The National Safety Council has published a helpful list of material types and the levels of protection they offer. Use this as a guide for choosing gloves for your next project.

Cotton and fabric gloves

These can keep hands clean and protect against abrasions, but may not be strong enough to handle work with rough or sharp materials.

Coated fabric gloves

This type of glove can provide protection against some moderate concentrated chemicals. They can be used in laboratory work provided they are strong enough to protect against the specific chemical being handled.

Rubber, plastic or synthetic gloves

These types of glove can be used when cleaning or working with oils, solvents and other chemicals.

Leather gloves

These should be used when welding, as the leather can resist sparks and moderate heat. The risk of cuts and abrasions also can be minimized by wearing leather gloves.

Aluminized gloves

These gloves are recommended for welding, furnace and foundry work, as they provide reflective and insulating protection.

Kevlar gloves

These have a wide variety of industrial applications. They are resistant to cuts or abrasion and provide protection against both heat and cold.

Chemical/liquid-resistant gloves

The following types of gloves help protect against specific chemicals:

Nitric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid and peroxide

Water solutions or acids, alkalis, salts, and ketones

Hydraulic fluids, gasoline, alcohols and organic acids

Chlorinated solvents

Contractors need to make sure the right type of hand protection is available for their crew depending on the type of work they will be doing. When the right gloves are not available workers tend to get “creative” and take chances rather than acquire the appropriate PPE.

Cut Ratings For Work Gloves Have Been Updated.

The American National Standards Institute and International Safety Equipment Association measure cut resistance by how many grams of pressure can be applied to a razor blade moving across a swatch of fabric before it cuts through 0.8 inches (20 mm) or more. The gram score tells you how many grams of pressure the glove withstood before yielding to the blade.

Thanks to ANSI and ISEA efforts, there are new standards in place that can help answer these questions. Over the years since their inception in 1999, these hand protection standards have always been aimed at providing working hands with the appropriate protection for each application.

In 2016, they released a new ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 American National Standard for Hand Protection Classification that includes the first rating updates since 2011. These changes are meant as a response to new developments and advances in fabric and other materials since the previous ratings came out.

What do the new glove ratings cover?

Comprehensive testing by ANSI/ISEA determines protection levels for a variety of possible workplace hand-harming challenges including:

  • Cut Resistance
  • Puncture Resistance
  • Hypodermic Needle Puncture Resistance
  • Abrasion Resistance
  • Chemical Permeation Resistance
  • Chemical Degradation Resistance
  • Ignition (Flame) Resistance
  • Heat Degradation Resistance
  • Conductive Heat Resistance
  • Vibration Reduction
  • Dexterity

How did the glove cut ratings change?

In this latest version, the ratings identify levels of cut resistance more accurately by using a nine-level scale. The previous rating used a five-level scale featuring a broad level four that had Safety Managers calling in to ask if a specific glove was a “high or low four”. The current standards addressed this issue by turning the problematic fourth level into three new, narrowly-graduated levels. The upper limit for cut resistance has also been expanded.

Another change improved the accuracy of test results by designating a single testing method. All tests now require the use of the ASTM F2992-15 method on the Tomodynamometer (TDM-100) machine. Testing on the CPPT machine is no longer accepted. Yet another significant change to the previous year’s iteration is the addition of a Hypodermic Needle Puncture Resistance test.

So, make sure you do your homework before you select gloves for your next project. And if you aren’t sure of what you need (or don’t have time to do the research) call or come by your nearest White Cap location and ask one of our product specialists for an assessment and recommendation.

What is the EN 388 Rating Standard?

Currently, on many cut resistant gloves sold in North America, you will find the EN 388 marking. The EN 388, similar to ANSI/ISEA 105, is the European standard used to evaluate mechanical risks for hand protection.

The European Standard for Protective Gloves, EN 388, was updated on November 4, 2016 and is now in the process of being ratified by each member country. Glove manufacturers selling in Europe have two years to comply with the new EN 388 2016 standard. Regardless of this allotted adjustment period, many leading manufacturers will immediately start using revised EN 388 markings on gloves.

Revisions 2016 to EN388 Standard Concerning Hand Protection Against Mechanical Risks

Learn all about the 2016 revisions to the EN388 standard concerning hand protection against mechanical risks in this video. It explains and demonstrates the …

PIP (Protective Industrial Products) does a great job of explaining the European standard and it’s status.



Check out these links for more information on Glove Cut Ratings check out these links:


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