Selecting safety gloves grip   Rubber safety gloves Safety gloves option

Images credits: Warwick Mills; Ar Flash Clothing; Platt Cases

 

 

Safety gloves are hand garments meant for the protection of the wrist, hand, fingers, and thumbs from adverse processes or conditions. These items are virtually limitless in application and find employment in both industrial and commercial marketplaces. Their functionality is determined by the material and design of the glove.

 

Safety Glove Operation

As a form of personal protective equipment (PPE) gloves defend the user's hands from general risk. These items may protect from occupational hazards as well as recreational risks where the hands are heavily involved in the completion of a task. Gloves feature individual sheaths for each digit to allow articulation and sensation, though these capabilities vary. Gloves are either nominally-sized or dimensioned universally, but good fitting gloves provide the best finger expression, safety, and comfort. Many gloves extend their coverage beyond the wrist; cuff styles vary according to the glove's purpose.

 

Gloves are usually intended for specific applications but may be suitable for other duties. The usage of gloves should never fall outside the service scope provided by the manufacturer. The most common reasons to wear safety gloves is to provide the following: heat/chill resistance, puncture and cut resistance, static control, chemical resistance, flame retardation, anti-contamination, enhanced grip, water proofing, and hand visibility. The material and design of the glove dictates for which applications the garment is suitable. It is advisable to wear other items of PPE if a job requires the use of safety gloves.

 

Types of Safety Gloves

While an unabridged list of safety gloves may never be feasible the following accounts for the styles, applications, and design considerations of many glove types.

 

Type of Glove

Material/Construction

Image

Aircrew gloves are manufactured to keep the hands of a flight crew warm while also providing flame resistance, water resistance, and enhanced grip for instrument control. Leather palms and fingertips, with other fire resistant fabrics like treated cotton or Nomex®.

Picking aircrew gloves

Image credit: Bennett Safety Wear

Anti-vibration gloves are meant to protect a worker's hands when using oscillating tools such as jackhammers or drills. They often feature some puncture resistance as well. Largely composed of leather, polyester, nylon, polymer, spandex, or cotton. Glove palms may feature vibration-dampening padding consisting of leather, gel, or foam rubber inserts.

Choosing vibration gloves

Image credit: Stihl USA

Antistatic glovessuppress dust-collecting electrostatic charges when handling delicate components. These dissipate electric static through the materials of construction. Nitrile, nylon, and carbon fibers are most common. Thunderon® acrylic fibers or a polyurethane coating may be incorporated

Picking static gloves

Image credit: Kinetronics

Chainmail gloves offer unrivaled protection to puncture and slashing. These are used in food preparation, wood working, and other high-risk puncture situations. Metal chain linked into fabric. Leather or cotton may provide additional comfort and binding.

Selecting chainmail gloves

Image credit: DIY Trade

Chainsaw gloves are specifically meant for chainsaw operation. Incorporating elements of grip, puncture and moisture resistance, and vibration dampening, these gloves are important for logging. Largely composed of leather, ballistic nylon, and spandex. Knuckleguards, palms, and wear points may feature polymer, rubber, or PVC reinforcement.

Chainsaw Gloves Stihl

Image credit: Stihl

Chemical gloves are designed for the safe handling of chemicals, including dangerous acids and bases. A large variety of materials are available since some materials become brittle, hard, stiff, cracked, or weak in the presence of certain substances. Varying degrees of thickness and surface finishes are common. They may be disposable. Including, but not limited to, homo/heterogeneous designs of: butyl, cotton, polyester, neoprene, nitrile, fluorelastimer, rubber, latex, PVA, PVC, vinyl, and viton.

Selecting chemical gloves

Image credit: Howards Malta

Cleanroom gloves are suitable for laboratory and contaminant-free environments. These are form-fitting to provide workers with adequate dexterity. They protect a worker's hands from chemicals/abrasion while also minimizing pollutants. They are usually disposable. Composed of nitrile, neoprene, latex, tri-polymer, or synthetic nitrile polymer.

Choice cleanroom gloves

Image credit: VWR

Cryogenic gloves protect human hands and arms in extremely cold atmospheres (liquefied nitrogen, etc.). These items come in many cuff styles, some extending to the shoulder. They offer excellent thermal efficiency, water resistance, and flexibility. Almost exclusively nylon taslan, PTFE, and silicone.

Selecting cryogenic gloves

Image credit: Cardinal Health

Driving gloves provide any vehicle operator with enhanced grasp of a control mechanism. These are helpful in warehouse and transportation workplaces, and may feature some flame resistance. They usually have an exposed knuckle and opisthenar for added flexibility. Exclusively leather.

Selecting industrial driving gloves

Image credit: New Grip

Electrical gloves are required when working in any kind of voltage application and can prevent electrical shock, arc flash, and arc blast. These items have been voltage rated and may offer some abrasion resistance as well.

All electrical gloves are made of natural rubber. Leather may be incorporated for comfort and tear resistance.

Selecting electrical gloves

Image credit: JM test Systems

Firefighter gloves are high strength, flame resistant, thermally efficient, waterproof gloves meant for firefighting operations. Structure fire and wildfire variants differ in construction, with structural designs needing additional puncture resistance and dexterity. Chemical firefighting will require proximity gloves, a type of glove capable of withstanding higher temperatures (1,500°F). General lifesaving uses rescue gloves (see below). Firefighting gloves are leather in composition, but may be lined or cuffed with cotton or Nomex®. They can sometimes double-stitched with Kevlar® or double-palmed. Proximity gloves are made of aluminized materials.

Firefighting gloves

Image credit: Axmen Fire Equipment

Flame retardant gloves offer superior protection to industrial processes that may put a worker's hands near open flame or sparks. These are usually less durable than firefighters gloves, but are also subject to less labor. They provide additional puncture resistance in industrial tasks. Leather, carbon fiber, Nomex®, and Goretex® are common materials. Gloves may be lined with fleece or cotton. 

Selecting flame retardant gloves

Image credit: Coats Industrial

Glovebox gloves are gloves intended to be used in conjunction with a glovebox: a mechanism for manipulating components within an enclosure. Appropriate gloves are determined by the object needing attention. These come in a variety of lengths, colors, and thicknesses. These can be disposed once an application is complete. Consisting of inert materials, like butyl, hypalon, and neoprene.

Glovebox gloves pick

Image credit: Buderer Drug Co.

Garden gloves are general, multipurpose gloves for landscaping and terrain repair. They oppose abrasion while enhancing grip. Leather, canvas, jersey, knit, cotton, latex, plastic, rubber, and vinyl.

Garden gloves

Image credit: Perfect Gardening Tips

Inspection gloves are contrary in purpose to most glove designs; objects and procedures are protected against the abrasive/oily texture of a human hand. Fabrics are lightweight, lint-free, and breathable with stress on tactility. Cotton, polyester, nylon, acrylic fibers and their proprietary blends, or synthetic, patented materials (Thermaknit®, Thermolite®).

Selecting inspection gloves

Image credit: Optics Planet

Medical glovesare disposable gloves serving primarily as a biohazard barrier between caregivers and patients. They do not serve much purpose outside of providing a dexterous, impermeable barrier. Triage gloves are less crafted than surgical gloves. Most prominently latex, but also nitrile, rubber, vinyl, and neoprene. Powdered cornstarch is sometimes used to keep gloves pliable.

Selecting medical gloves

Image credit: Safa Medical

Mechanic's gloves face unique challenges when worn by machinery repair workers. Abrasion and impact resistance, material and tool handling, weatherability, oil resistance, flexibility, and visibility are all considerations when manufacturing mechanic's gloves. Closers and cuffs vary accordingly. Materials are not limited to: leather/suede, polyester, nylon, spandex, cotton, rubber, PVC, Clarino®, neoprene,  and Kevlar®, along with foam, gel, and TPR padding.

Selecting mechanics gloves

Image credit: Craftsman

Rescue gloves are designed for general purpose operation during traumatic incidents. They are primarily worn by police, fire, and search and rescue companies so workers can have puncture resistance, cold weather insulation, enhanced grip and sensitivity, and reflectivity in emergency situations. They are not suitable for firefighting, though they may be fire/heat resistant. Leather foundations with high-strength materials such as polymer/TPR shells, carbon fibers, neoprene, nylon, aramids, Cordura®, Kevlar®, and Clarino®.

Selecting rescue gloves

Image credit: 2 Hot Activewear

Sandblasting gloves are intended to be used with abrasive blasting techniques and protect the users hands and arms from overspray. They have extended cuffs, and the material of construction makes them alkali and acid resistant while also providing additional grip.   Neoprene, vinyl, rubber, and leather materials, with cotton lining.

Selecting abrasive blasting gloves

Image credit: Magid Glove Co.

Tactical gloves provide police, military, and security personnel with enhanced grip, puncture resistance, contamination control, and digit articulation when in confrontational or hostile operations. A sleek, covert design allows the wearer control of weapons and tools. Many designs are fingerless. Primarily made of leather, nylon, neoprene, spandex, amara, Lycra®, Kevlar®, Nomex®, and/or Spandura®. Linings may include foam, microfleece, polyester, Thinsulate®, Kevlar®, or Nomex®. 

Choice tactical gloves

Image credit: 511 Tactical

 

Safety Glove Variants

Some notable hand PPE deserves mention within this IHS GlobalSpec selection guide. Finger guards are individual leather sheaths to protect fingers from cuts during woodworking and other bladed hand tool operation. They do not offer the palm or knuckle protection, and consist of leather and spandex. Finger guards are opposed to hand guards, which are essentially fingerless gloves. Hand guards' main advantage is that the fingers and thumb remain uncovered resulting in unconstricted movement. These items expose fingers to risk while protecting the palm and opisthenar. Finally, though mittens may seem ludicrous they are more thermally efficient. In very cold/hot environments where finger expression is unimportant, industrial mittens may prove advisable.

Selecting finger guards  Selecting hand guardsSelecting industrial mittens

Images credit: Texas Wood Carvers; Grainger

 

Safety Glove Standards

These assorted standards can provide reference when determining safety glove needs.

MIL- DTLI-32094 Military standards for aircrew gloves

ASTM F739 Testing of liquid/gas permeability in safety gloves

BS 511 Specifications for cold resistance

BS 388 Safety gloves and mechanical risk

BS 420 General purpose protective gloves

ISO 13997 Cut resistance of PPE

BS 1082-1Chainmail's resistance to puncture

BS 381-4 Chain saw glove specifications

BS 407 Protective gloves against thermal risk

BS 659 Firefighter protective gloves

SAA AS 2161 Industrial safety gloves/mittens

ANSI/ASA S2.73 Vibration transmissibility of gloves

ASTM E1731Testing residue on cleanroom gloves

ESD SP15.1 Testing of ESD gloves

ISO 14644 Controlled environment gloveboxes

 

Resources

 

Wikipedia - Personal protective equipment

 

Grainger - Hand Protection

 

eHow - Uses for Industrial Gloves

 

Magid Glove & Safety Manufacturing Company LLC - Work Gloves

 

Ansell Pro - Product Catalogue