The Ultimate Guide To Work Gloves

Among the most common injuries on the hands, cuts and lacerations are just second to strains and sprains. However, that does not make them any less dangerous. This is why companies making gloves have produced hundreds, even thousands, kinds of work gloves. They know that every worker needs protection in their day-to-day activities. Regardless of your industry, danger at work is always present. Glove manufacturers understand that choosing the best work gloves are now even more complicated. I understand that too and this is why I’ll be giving you resources and tips to help make your life easier.

Understanding The Different Work Gloves

Taking time to understand the different kinds of work gloves can greatly aid you in choosing the best pair to use. Different kinds of work gloves have different purposes for different kinds of work. Wearing the right pair can help you stay protected while working.

1. Cut Resistant Work Gloves

In North America alone, cuts and lacerations cause almost 30% of work injuries. These injuries lost time at work and the majority of them are to the hands. Knowing how to pick the right cut-resistant gloves, as well as when you should use them, is important in helping you protect your digits. Here, I will answer the frequently asked questions regarding the cut-resistant gloves.

Do Cut-Resistant Work Gloves Work?

My short answer is yes. However, you have to remember that not every cut-resistant work gloves have been created equal. This is a good thing since the amount of resistant that you need depends on how hazardous the objects and materials you’re handling.

Cut-resistant work gloves have been created to protect your hands from lacerations and cuts. With a good pair, you can work with sharp objects such as nails and knives or sharp materials such as glass and metal.

Where Can You Find Cut-Proof Gloves?

If you’re looking for a pair of cut-proof gloves, then be prepared to get disappointed. Cut-proof gloves are entirely mythical. This means that they’re non-existent. Cut-resistant gloves can only resist a certain amount of cuts but they cannot entirely protect you from them.

What’s The Right Level Of Cut-Resistant Work Gloves?

When it comes to cut-resistant gloves, the ratings are from ANSI level A1 to ANSI level A9. The ANSI level A9 gloves have been created to protect you from extreme hazards, while ANSI level A1 has been designed to help you prevent the threat from paper cuts.

You may think that you immediately need a pair of cut-resistant work gloves for extreme cut hazards. Gloves that have been designed to provide you protection from extreme cut hazards can be more expensive. This is because they have been reinforced for high cut risks. They may not very comfortable if you’re only to cut paper with scissors.

How Can You Test Cut-Resistant Gloves?

When it comes to measuring to the gloves’ cut-resistant properties, there are two common standards. One is being used in Asia and Europe and the other one is used in America.

European Standard (EN 388):

  1. A test sample is removed from the palm of your gloves.
  2. A rotating circular blade is moved back and forth across the sample until the blade cuts through the sample.
  3. The sample is then compared to reference material such as a piece of cloth.
  4. The test sample and reference material are then alternatively cut until at least five results are the same.
  5. The reference material is going to be cut before and after the test sample in order to take into account the loss of the blade’s sharpness.
  6. The cut resistance is a ratio of the number of cycles that are required to cut through the sample compared to the reference material.

The Coup Test was the only test being used under the EN 388 standard until 2016. In 2016, the ISO 13997 concept was introduced as the standard update. It’s closely related to the American standard test. The tester must use the cut test method of ISO 13997 if the blade will make 60 passes more than the test glove without attaining penetration under Coup Test method.

North American Standard (ANSI/ISEA 105-2016):

  1. The sample from the glove is put on a conductive strip and laden onto the TDM-100. If the metal blade would touch the metal strip, the test is over.
  2. A straight blade is placed into the machine.
  3. To serve as force, weight is put on.
  4. The blade will move across the sample.
  5. Every new sample, a new blade will be used to ensure accuracy.
  6. The sample is cut with the blade five times, each time comes with three different loads.
  7. The distance that will be traveled for a slice through to happen of different forces would be recorded.
  8. The data will then be used to determine the needed load to slice through the sample.
  9. The glove will receive a rating based on the information between A9 and A1. With A9 being the highest, while A1 being the lowest.

What Are The Different Cut-Resistant Gloves?

There are three main kinds of cut-resistant gloves that most companies manufacture:

1. Seamless Knit Gloves

Knitted in a single piece from high strength yarns like high-performance polyethylene or para-amid that are natively cut resistant

2. Cut-and-Sewn Gloves

They are made out of a material that’s cut-resistant. The material is then to cut to shape and then sewn into a glove.

3. Metal Mesh Gloves

These gloves look like chainmail and are generally made from rings of stainless steel.

Choosing The Best Cut-Resistant Work Gloves For Your Needs

My advise is that you take time to consider the amount of risk that you’ll be facing. Will there be a possibility of an accident that you need total protection? Or will you need dexterity, flexibility, and comfort while working? The higher your risk will be, the tougher gloves you’ll need. By calculating these factors, you’ll be able to identify the perfect gloves that will fit your hands and your tasks perfectly.

Can You Wash Cut-Resistant Gloves?

My short answer to this question is yes. Dry cleaning and laundering your cut-resistant work gloves will not significantly affect them. Doing so will not alter the protective properties of the pair. Most superior quality cut-resistant work gloves will retain their protective protective after couple of washes. It’s all thanks to the introductions of durable yarns like Kevlar and the technological improvements on glove making.

It’s worth noting, however, that when handling your cut-resistant work gloves, you should always follow the instructions given by the manufacturer.

2. Chemical Resistant Work Gloves

It’s essential that you know what type of chemical resistant work gloves is right for your tasks at hands. There are coating materials that use natural rubber, while some use synthetic rubber. Different kinds of materials will give you protection from different kinds of environments and chemicals.

How Can You Choose The Right Chemical-Resistant Work Gloves?

You have to remember that different types of chemicals needs different types of protective coatings. This is why glove manufacturers have created a wide variety of chemical resistant work gloves. They use materials such as latex, nitrile, neoprene and polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

A. Natural Rubber

Natural rubber or more commonly known as Latex can be found in more than 200 plants. Hevea Brasiliensis tree, however, is the most common source. Latex is the natural rubber that’s been dispersed in water. It has a very high elasticity when compared to other materials used to make gloves. They have an outstanding temperature resistance and strong grip. The material also have an excellent cut and tear resistance. It’s also quite flexible and durable. The biggest downfall of this material is that it has a very low flame resistance.

Generally, natural rubber can withstand some ketones, alcohols, and water. However, it can barely resist chemicals such as organic solvents and hydrocarbon. Lastly, some people may be allergic to the material.

B. Synthetic Rubber

B.1. Chloroprene

Chloroprene, or popularly known by its DuPont name, Neoprene. It’s the first ever commercial synthetic rubber. The material has a good cut and abrasion resistance and can even resist degradation becauce of ozone, oxidation, weather, sunlight, and aging. It demonstrates great heat stability and can withstand up to 200°F(93°C). Neoprene is flame resistant and gives excellent resistance to chemicals such as alcohols, fats, acids, refrigerant, caustics, detergents, fertilizers, and ketones.

In some other formulations, Neoprene is combined with natural rubber.

B.2. Nitrile Rubber

Nitrile rubber is a co-polymer of butadiene and acrylonitrile. It gives excellent protection with its resistance to abrasion, cuts, snags, and punctures. Even though it is not flame resistant, the material is still able to perform in temperatures ranging from 25°F to 300°F (-4°C to 149°C).

The material is resistant to fuels, oils, and some organic solvents. Nitrile rubber is usually used as a coating for dipped gloves. It’s also used in the construction of impregnated, laminated, sewn, and cut gloves.

B.3. Butyl and Viton-Butyl

Viton Butyl and Butyl are highly impermeable to water and gas vapors. The materials can give excellent dexterity even in cold temperatures. They can protect you against ketones, esters, wide range of harsh chemicals, and strong oxidizing agents that natural rubber may not be able to protect you from.

Butyl and Viton-Butyl may degrade if they’re exposed to certain solvents or ammonia. However, they degrade slower when compared to other elastomers.

C. Plastics

C.1. Polyurethane (PU)

Polyurethane is a thermoplastic polymer of urethane. It can give you great tensile strength and resistance from abrasion.  The materials can provide good resistance to oxidation, some organic solvents, oils, and the ozone. However, it has poor resistance to hot water. I recommend that you avoid using them above 175°F (79°C).

Polyurethane gloves are great for room cleaning usage since the material has a low particulate shed. The material is used as a waterproof liner in some gloves and also in specialty application style of gloves.

C.2. Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC)

Polyvinyl Chloride, or commonly known as PVC, is a vinyl chloride’s  synthetic thermoplastic polymer. It can give you good abrasion resistance, however, the material is susceptible to snags, cuts, and punctures. The material is usually used a coating for work gloves that are coated.

While PVC is flexible, it can not give you the tactile sensitivity that most rubber products can. The material may start to soften at 180°F (82°C). This is it’s my advise that you avoid using them when handling possibly hot objects.

PVC is effective against detergents, diluted acids and bases, water, and most aqueous products. It’s not, however, as effective with organic solvents.

Work Gloves

3. Kevlar

The fiber of Kevlar is an incredibly durable, light, and flexible material. It’s also has great flame, heat, and cut resistance. This unique combination of properties makes the fiber of Kevlar a high performing material. It’s the perfect solution for the plenty demanding tasks that you use your work gloves on.

Aside from the material’s many inherent properties, it’s available in different fiber forms. This allows glove manufacturers to create plenty of flexible designs. Some Kevlar fiber forms include textured filaments, engineered blends, and spun yarns. They sometimes incorporate fibers while creating the whole glove. The users of Kevlar work gloves can rely on the assurance that they’ll have great protection offered by the material no matter what the industrial application.

Is It Easy Care For Kevlar Work Gloves?

The answer to that question is yes. What most glove wearers forget is that one of the factors that they need to consider when picking the best work gloves is it’s care. What makes Kevlar even better is that even they’ve been stained with greases and oils, the material’s cut-resistant is not affected. Kevlar work gloves’ ability to be laundered and recondition makes them an industrially accepted product.

Kevlar is resistant to plenty of solvents and chemicals, but can be rapidly degraded by strong bases,acids, and oxidizers. Depending on the materials combined with Kevlar, products made of them are usually machine wash friendly.

Kevlar Thermal Protection

The fiber Kevlar can give you excellent thermal resistance and low thermal conductivity. Kevlar does not melt between in temperatures between 800°F – 900°F. It will not decompose on the temperatures too. This ability is extremely high if compared to other materials melting points.

Gloves that are purely made of 100% Kevlar can give you great thermal insulation. This is specially great if you are working in cold or hot environments.

4. Dyneema

Gloves that have been made with Dyneema don’t feel like gloves at all. You can forget about gloves that are uncomfortable, heavy, and thick. This is because Dyneema have been made using a special gel, unlike other materials used in making gloves. The materials gives you incredible flexibility and letting you enjoy softness while ensuring you have maximum cut resistance.

Enjoy Coolness With Dyneema

Workers are not new to encountering problems such as hot, sweaty, and itchy hands. In fact, the problem may have been encountered by once or twice by people working in a manufacturing environment. Fortunately, an excellent has been found in the form of Dyneema. The fiber is an exceptional heat conductor and can easily adapt to your skin’s temperature while easily transporting your moisture and heat from the gloves’ inside to the outside.

Gloves that are made with Dyneema are not only extremely flexible but also great in providing dexterity to their wearers. This, in turn, can improve your ability to perform your tasks while wearing them.

Excellent Cut Resistance

The reason that workers wear work gloves is to protect themselves from the different dangers at work. They need to protect themselves not only from cuts, lacerations, tears, and abrasions, but also from mechanical, product, biological, and chemical threats. When Dyneema is used alone in creating work gloves, they can provide you a cut resistance level up to A2 (ANSI) and 3 (EN388).  If they are combined with steel or glass fiber, they can provide you a higher level of cut resistance. Tests also show that Dyneema work gloves have up to 20 times more resistance to abrasion compared to other gloves.

5. Leather

Leather is a material that’s naturally durable and flexible. It’s generally created by tanning rawhides and skins of animals. Cattle hide is the most common raw material. The material can be produced at different manufacturing scales. It can be produced from an artisan scale to a modern industrial scale. Leather is produced in different styles and types and can be designed by a wide range of styles.

Different Kinds of Leather

One of the favorites of workers in different industries is leather work gloves. It’s because the materials have excellent abrasion resistance, lifespan, and durability. However, it’s worth noting that leathers made from different hides will give you different benefits. As I’ve said earlier, identifying the best work gloves made from the right material is essential.

A. Cowhide

Cowhide is the most used leather since the material is fairly easy to maintain. The material has a great value for comfort, durability, appearance, and texture.

B. Pigskin

Pigskin is a leather that’s dense but with a supple and soft feel to it. It’s a breathable hide that will not stiffen or harden even if it’s wet.

C. Deerskin

Deerskin is one of the softest materials that your hands can wear. This leather will conform to the contours of hands, thus giving you improved flexibility. The material is lightweight and will never overheat your hands which is a great feat compared to other kinds of leather.

D. Sheepskin

Sheepskin is not only comfortable but also soft. The material is delicate and lightweight that can provide you optimal touch sensitivity and dexterity.

E. Buffalo Leather

Buffalo leather is popular for its extreme durability and strength. It also has great abrasion resistance while being extremely rugged. The material can also resist puncture better than other kinds of leather. It’s also very breathable which makes them very comfortable.

F. Goatskin

Goatskin is often considered as the strongest leather. It has a great abrasion resistance and high tensile strength.  The leather also has an excellent tear resistance even the material is thin. Goatskin is pliable and soft since it has natural oil content.

G. Horsehide

Compared to other kinds of leather, horsehide takes much longer to be broken in. However, the material is one of the toughest and most durable leather. Plus, with these qualities, horsehide has a longer lifespan compared to others.

Cut Locations Of Leather

Where the leather is cut from is as important as the kind of leather. Here are the cut locations of leather:

A. Side-Split Leather

The leather with highest quality and durability. However, the material can be a bit expensive.

B. Shoulder-Split Leather

The leather has good quality and is slightly cheaper than the side-split leather.

C.Belly-split Leather

Among the cut locations, this cut is the most economical one. However, it’s worth noting that this cut the least durable.

Grain Leather VS Split Leather

A. Grain Leather

After the hide has been divided into layers, the outer layer of leather is known as grain. Grain leather is a bit more expensive than split leather. It’s pricier since it’s better looking. Grain leather is usually used for fashion or upholstery purposes

Grain Leather VS Split Leather

A. Grain Leather

After the hide has been divided into layers, the outer layer of leather is known as grain. Grain leather is a bit more expensive than split leather. It’s pricier since it’s better looking. Grain leather is usually used for fashion or upholstery purposes

B. Split Leather

Once the grain or outer layer is removed, the split leather is the piece that remains. This leather is economical, however, it’s coarser. The material has a high abrasion resistance because of the density of its fibers. This cut of leather can repel water better than grain leather.

Know How To Protect Your Digits

Knowing how to pick the right pair of work gloves can greatly help you protect your digits while you’re at work. Picking the right pair made of the right materials will ensure that you are protected from cuts, tears, chemicals, and other work-related hazards. As a worker, it is your job to know how to protect your digits.

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