The versatility that makes coated work gloves a great choice for many workplaces is also what makes the process of selecting the correct glove a challenge.
The Coated Work Gloves Handbook by the International Glove Association is a comprehensive guide to this type of hand protection, providing information that will help safety professionals choose the right gloves for their high-hazard worksites, whether the hands that need protecting work in manufacturing, construction, health facilities or service industries.
Coated work gloves consist of a fabric layer made of knitted or woven cotton, wool or synthetic blends coated with materials such as rubber, PVC, polyurethane, nitrile or neoprene. Although the concept is simple, the many variables available are what make the coated work glove adaptable to hundreds of different types of tasks and environments.
The design and length of liners, cuffs and grips are a few of the factors that differentiate coated work gloves. In addition to providing the “support” for the coating material, the lining contributes most of the glove’s physical strength, along with resistance to puncture, snagging, cutting, abrasion and tearing. The liner is also a key feature in the glove’s comfort, since it affects donning and doffing ease and may also absorb perspiration.
The handbook examines OSHA requirements for hand protection and suggests choosing the glove that offers the optimum combination of comfort and performance. Coated work gloves protect against cuts, punctures, abrasion, tears and snags. Gloves may also be chosen based on the need for some barrier protection that will protect the wearer from water, oils, detergents, chemicals or biological agents. Chemical protection, for example, calls for liquid-tight integrity and materials that provide a high level of resistance to the specific chemicals involved, while coating materials that have resistance to electrostatic discharge are vital for cleanroom operations.
Cut Resistant Facts Handbook
The Cut Resistant Facts Handbook distributed by the International Glove Association (IGA) discusses both the advantages and limitations of the materials used in cut resistant gloves. One of those limitations comes in the form of a reminder that the gloves are cut resistant, not cut proof, and should not be used with or around powered machinery, rotating blades or saws.
While OSHA does not require cut resistant gloves to meet a specific standard, employers are urged to get documentation from manufacturers that the gloves they are buying have met “appropriate test standards for the hazards anticipated.” The handbook describes the methodology and equipment used by the ASTM and ISO to test gloves for cut resistance.
Most gloves offer some level of cut resistance, but the recent availability of materials like para-aramids, high modulus polyethylene polymers, liquid crystal polyester and thin strands of stainless steel has lead to greater cut resistance – without reducing comfort and dexterity. Some glove treatments like polymer coating, dotting or leather also increase cut protection levels, but at the expense of other end use properties.
Yarns may not sound as if they contribute much to cut resistance, until one realizes that Kevlar and Twaron are aramid yarns, or that yarns can be combined with stainless steel or fiberglass through engineering. In fact, the emergence of synthetic high performance fibers over the last 20 years has had a major impact on the hand protection industry, allowing PPE manufacturers to design lighter, more comfortable, higher dexterity gloves that still provide sufficient protection against typical industrial hazards.
Glove style (ie., three-finger, long-cuff) is also a factor to be considered by the end user. Stainless steel mesh gloves are not as form fitting as fiber gloves and may periodically need repair and reconditioning, but they offer the highest level of cut protection.
Leather Facts Handbook
Leather making may well be the world’s oldest trade, according to anthropologists. The discovery of 600,000-year-old tools used to tan animal hides and skins lends credence to that belief, as does evidence that leather was used extensively in several ancient civilizations.
Among its many contemporary uses, leather is a common glove material. The introduction of engineered materials hasn’t pushed the more traditional leather into obsolescence, since many of the synthetics lack leather’s natural abrasion resistance and aesthetic appeal.
The Leather Facts Handbook produced by the International Glove Association describes the process of manufacturing leather, sorts out the various types of leather and provides illustrations and descriptions of the features available in leather gloves.
The manufacturing process section explains industry terms like “in the blue” and “in the crust” (the former refers to hide after it’s been chrome tanned, the latter to hide that is ready to be finished) and runs through the various phases of preparing hides for use, many of them time-consuming. Brine curing washed hides in large vats takes 12 hours; wet salting occurs over several days.
Leather made from the hides of different animals has different properties that must be considered by glove manufacturers and end users. Deerskin offers the highest tensile strength, pigskin the highest resistance to heat and cowhide good thermal protection.
The features of leather gloves also determine their appropriate usage. The gunn cut – which results in a seamless backside and finger seams that are away from the palm – increases durability. The gauntlet cuff’s 4 ½” extension gives the wearer’s forearm additional protection against lacerations and heat. A leather bound hem is durable and won’t expand, but is not as economical as a fabric bound hem. The Leather Facts Handbook is a useful resource for understanding all the options that are available.
From their humble cotton origins, gloves have come a long way in terms of the range of textiles used in their manufacture. According to the Textile Facts Handbook produced by the International Glove Association, those textiles make it possible to produce hand protection for all kinds of work environments, from high heat to no lint, from oil fields to film processing labs.
Traditional cotton -- a unicellular, natural fiber that makes a soft and breathable textile -- remains a mainstay of the glove industry. Cotton may be used in a canvas or jersey form, depending on the glove construction style (woven, knit or seamless knit). It may also be combined with polyester and other synthetics, making it very versatile.
Wool is another popular natural fiber, as is – surprisingly -- bamboo. The tall, woody plant can be processed to make a thin, soft fabric, as well as a yarn that can be knitted into gloves.
Manufactured or synthetic fibers like acrylic, nylon, polyester, polyurethane, rayon and acetates are attractive to glovemakers because scientists are able to enhance manufactured fibers with certain properties that occur naturally in animals or plants.
Along with various design features, the weight of the textiles used in gloves helps determine their effectiveness and protectiveness in specific workplaces. For instance, extra heavyweight gloves made of terry cloth synthetic fibers are cut and flame resistant. The thermal properties of heavyweight gloves make them useful in high-heat environments. Medium weight textile gloves are used in general industry, giving the wearer warmth, dexterity and protection from cuts, abrasions, dirt and chafing. Lightweight cotton gloves can be worn alone or as a liner under other gloves, to absorb perspiration.
The handbook includes details and illustrations of thumb styles, wrist types and glove types along with a description of the manufacturing process.
The IGA wishes to thank the following people for their effort, time and commitment to the completion of this project:
Libby Parrish (Chair) Honeywell International Stephanie Gao Wells Lamont Hugo Kruiniger Majestic Glove Bill Trainer Wells Lamont Craig Wagner Global Glove & Safety