CONSIDERATIONS WHEN ASSESSING CORRECT HAND PROTECTION
• Risk (low, medium, high)
COMMON MATERIALS USED IN GLOVE MANUFACTURING
• Polycotton (Cotton and Polyester mixtures)
• Leather (& Synthetic)
• Kevlar® and 'similar types'
• Dyneema® and 'similar types'
• Superfabric (Hexarmor)
• Glass Reinforced Yarns
• Steel Reinforced Yarns
• Lycra (Spandex)
• TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer)
• Vinyl (PVC - Polyvinyl Chloride)
• PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol)
• Latex (Natural Rubber)
• Nitrile (Synthetic latex compound made from a blend of butadiene and acrylonitrile)
• Butyl (Synthetic Rubber, a copolymer of isobutylene with isoprene; IIR - Isobutylene Isoprene Rubber)
• Neoprene (Synthetic Rubber, Polychloroprene)
• PU (Polyurethane)
Cotton is of course a natural fibre, is non-allergenic and soft to the touch, which makes it perfect for garments that come into contact with the skin. It is often mixed with other yarns whether natural or artificial. It has a high absorbency rate retaining as much as 27 times its own weight in water, becoming stronger when wet. Unlike the close weave of synthetic fibres, cotton cloth is breathable because of its particular fibre structure. It can be produced chemical-free or coated with other material; it can be dry cleaned, is machine washable and is easy to print on.
Nylon fibre (and hence fabric) is shiny, smooth and weighs little. It is one of the strongest of the synthetic fabrics and it retains its strength over long time periods. However when wet, it loses its strength. As a fabric it affords great resistance to abrasion and good elasticity. A disadvantage is its low absorbancy however it absorbs moisture better than polyester.
Polyester fibres are very strong and durable. They are resistant to abrasion, stretching, shrinking, and to most chemicals. Polyester fabrics have no affinity with water, are easy to wash, dry quickly and retain their shape, and it is this combination that makes them popular in the manufacture of clothing. Polycotton fabrics are more comfortable than pure polyester; combined with Lycra they give additional flexibility and breathability. Polyester is a good insulator compared to Nylon.
Terry-knit gloves are durable and have high heat and abrasion resistance. The heavy-looped pile construction traps air and makes these gloves excellent insulators against hot objects and a good glove choice for handling sharp or rough metal parts.
Leather is good at taking up liquid so is a great performer in damp applications such as oily environments. Leather can be slightly acidic due to the chemicals used in tanning.
Kevlar® is most famously used in ballistic and stab-resistant body armor such as bullet-proof vests. Manufactured by DuPont in fibre form it is woven into extremely strong and flexible material. It is cut and heat resistant. It feels like cotton. It's production is costly and so the final product is expensive. A disadvantage is that it is sensitive to UV light where after sufficient exposure the fabric starts to yellow and then brown.
Dyneema® is a multi-filament plastic fibre spun from polyethylene of very high molecular weight. It is very strong, has low density, low elongation at breaking point and is resistant to most chemicals. It is not affected by UV light, unlike Kevlar®. It is used as a cut resistant material.
Superfabric, often called Hexarmor because of its hexagonal prints which are overlayed by using 2 or 3 layers of a lightweight fabric. These layers are constructed in such a way as to leave gaps between the individual plates allowing for total flexibility. The thickness of the finished material is varied according to applications which can include fast drying and stain reduction. It is an excellent anti-syringe material.
Glass and Steel can be spun together to produce cost-effective enhaced cut resistance.
TPE (thermoplastic elastomer) is a mixture of plastic and rubber, producing a flexible and durable material that is is great at dry grip.
PVC (polyvinyl chloride or just Vinyl) is a synthetic material and the least flexible however it has good resistance against acids, alkalis, oils and fats, but is poor for most solvents. It provides good protection against abrasions.
PVA is great against some solvents, unlike PVC, but is water soluble so poor for water soluble solutions.
Latex is a natural rubber. It is the most comfortable to put on and to wear; it is the most flexibe and skin-hugging. It has high tensile strength. It provides good resistance against solvents, inorganic and alcohol-based chemicals but poor against solvents. Should not be used for oily or greasy environments.
Nitrile is a synthetic material that is a good general all-round product and used as an alternative to latex for fit, strength and elasticity. It protects against solvents, oils greases and acids. It is less comfortable than latex and degrades easily in chemicals like acetone, where latex is hugely better. It is poor for organic solvents and oxidising acids.
Butyl molecules are closely packed together and so this substance has great gas and liquid vapour permeation resistance. It has good resistance against alcohols, solvents and acids, but poor for petrol and certain hydrocarbons.
Neoprene is a synthetic rubber which performs well at both low and high temperatures, gives good resistance to acids, alcohols, alkalis, oils and solvents but is poor for certain hydrocarbons. It should be avoided against organic solvents. PU is porous and so highly breathable which in turn means that it can be worn all day. On the down side it is not so strong. It offers good abrasion-resistance but a poor barrier to liquid. Avoid use with DMF solvents.
Polyurethane (PU) is an extremely popular coating in the world of safety gloves, in part because of the wide range of materials with which the basic resin can be combined. As a coating it gives good grip without being sticky. It is soft and yet contributes to high abrasion, cut and puncture resistance in gloves, without reducing sensitivity of touch. As a further sign of its versatility, it has a low-particulate shed making it an ideal choice for gloves used in electronics and in clean rooms.
Typical sizes range from XS - 6 to XXL - 11. The numbers refers to the circumference of 4 fingers in inches.
Double Chlorination - is a process at the end of glove production, for example in latex and nitrile glove (but not vinyl production), used for cleaning the gloves and reducing their tackiness.
Dipped - coated gloves produced by dipping a mould into a liquid polymer such as nitrile or PVC. The coating can be on the whole glove or on only certain parts of the glove such as the back.
Double Dipped - good durability but extra coating makes them less dextrous.
Powdered - powder is added to the inside of the gloves to ease putting on or removing. The powder however can become airborne and inhaled, and in the case of natural rubber latex proteins can cause an allergic reaction.
Unpowdered - for example as used for medical grade disposable gloves.
Supported - produced by dipping a polymer onto a fabric lining.
Unsupported - produced by dipping a mould into a liquid polymer.
Cut and Sewn - glove is stitched from different cut pieces.
Seamless - glove made from one piece of knitted fabric with no seams.
Gauntlets - this can refer to any longer length gloves, designed to give arm as well as hand protection.
Granular Crumb - usually applied to chemical gauntlet for extra grip.
Sand Blasted - for added grip and durability.
Unlined - made from one material and smooth on the inside, often double chlorinated to ease putting on.
Flock-lined - means that a layer of fine fibre, for example cotton, is attached to the gloves before curing, which makes the gloves more comfortable to wear.
Foamed - good at both oil and wet grip.
Foamed over Flat - good liquid barrier, including oil and wet grip. Makes the glove less dextrous (as measured by the size of the pin that can be picked up.)
Dot Coated Gloves - dots or other patterns are screen printed from material such as nitrile or PVC onto the glove, in order to improve grip.
Knit Wrist Gloves - knitted, seamless with an elasticated wrist for a better fit.
Rolled or Beaded Cuff - to help prevent liquid flowing or dripping from the end of the cuff.
Gimped Cuff - serrated cuff finish.
Faced Cuff - fabric glove with a reinforcing material attached by sewing.
Sponge - comfortable and dextrous.
Waffle - good wet and dry grip.
Criss Cross - cost effective way of ensuring good dry grip.
Sleeves - for arm protection against cuts and heat while preserving mobility and dexterity. Often covers the lower half of the fingers only leaving fingertips free.
Polyurethane Palm-Coated Gloves
Polyurethane is an organic polymer whose basic resin can be synthesized into a variety of materials; hence it is well-known for being versatile. As a glove coating, it gives good grip without being sticky. Whilst it is soft, it also gives high puncture and abrasion resistance and so is a popular coating for cut-resistant gloves. It does not add bulk or reduce touch sensitivity despite being characteristically puncture resistant. The low-particulate shed makes it ideal for work with electronics and in clean rooms.
DMF is a solvent that has been used in the clothing industry for decades. Mixed with coatings it assists in the effective bonding of the coating on the glove liner. Traces can remain after production and it can be absorbed through the skin. It was tested in a German laboratory some years ago and it is thought that it may be toxic and in larger doses carcinogenic.
We offer a range of DMF-free PU-coated gloves, including lightweight 13 gauge gloves which are dextrous, have excellent tactile sensitivity and have a lining with an open texture to help improve hand ventilation.
HEAT RESISTANT GLOVES
The factors involved in choosing a heat-resistant glove are the operating temperature ranges, whether or not work involves an open flame or spark, whether the exposure is thermal or atmospheric, and whether the heat is dry or moist.
Gloves made with Kevlar® provide both cut resistance as well as an increased ability to withstand direct flames. Having a silicone-coated Kevlar® outer layer gives the wearer the ability for direct contact with hot surfaces without burning or melting. Terry gloves provide good insulation against heat by trapping air; they are great for handling rough, sharp metal parts because terry is also cut resistant.
CUT RESISTANT GLOVES
Cut resistant gloves are made to protect the wearer's hands from cuts while working with sharp tools.
The gauge of the yarn refers to its thickness; for example a 10 gauge glove would be thicker than a 13 gauge glove. Cut resistant gloves are often coated with solid or foamed Latex, Nitrile or Polyurethane.
The following provides a rule-of-thumb general method of differentiating between the different cut levels and which level to choose according to the application:
Cut Level 1 : Nuisance cuts such as ones got whilst working in material handling including paper cuts, car maintenance or parts assembly.
Cut Level 2 : Low cut hazards such as ones obtained during construction or masonry work, car assembly and packaging.
Cut Level 3 : Moderate cut hazards such as may occur for example during light-duty metal or glass handling.
Cut Level 4 : High cut hazards such as may occur for example during sheet metal or glass handling or during food service.
Cut Level 5 : Extreme cut hazards such as may occur during heavy metal or glass plate work, some paper or pulping operations, some applications in the meat or poultry industries.
The level of cut resistance in materials differs according to their inherent abilities to resist cuts. The following list of commonly-used basic materials used in the manufacture of safety gloves in in order of increasing Cut Resistance:
Latex, Leather, Cotton, Synthetics (Nylon, Polyester), High Performance Materials (Kevlar®, Dyneema®, Chineema), Engineered Yarns (Kevlar® Steel, Dyneema® Fibreglass), Metal Mesh.
Dyneema®: An extremely strong polyethylene fiber that combines maximum strength and minimum weight. Also known as a high-performance polyethylene (HPPE), on a weight-for-weight basis it is up to 40% stronger than aramid fibers. Dyneema® floats on water and is extremely durable and resistant to moisture as well as being self-lubricating. It is highly resistant to UV light as well as corrosive chemicals except oxidizing acids. It is highly resistant to abrasion, in some forms being 15 times more resistant to abrasion than carbon steel.
Chineema is a common term for non-branded Dyneema® yarn. The yarn is in fact ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE), and is mostly manufactured in China hence the derivation of its name. It comes in different qualities.
Kevlar® Aramid Fibre: five times stronger than steel per unit weight. Inherently flame resistant, it begins to char at 800°F (427°C). The thread, made from Kevlar® fibre, is used to sew seams on temperature-resistant gloves.
Kevlar® is a lightweight and flexible material that gives cut- and heat-resistance. It derives its strength from strong bonding between relatively short molecules.
Fibre-Metal Blends: many durable, abrasion-resistant gloves are made from woven fabric blends such as Kevlar® and stainless steel.
Metal Mesh: Rings of interlocked stainless steel mesh, similar to chainmail, provide superior cut and abrasion protection due to their strength, giving high cut and abrasion resistance.
The European Safety Standard EN420 gives general requirements for all protective gloves. Other standards are applicable in addition depending on the specific use.
The EN388 Standard is also an internationally used system but there is another standard, the ISO 13997 standard which is mostly used in North America. There are differences between these standards.
A Guide to the EN 388: 2003 Mechanical Protection Standard
Gloves giving protection from mechanical risks.
There are 3 broad PPE risk categories into which glove hazard classification falls:
Category 1: Simple Design
This encompasses minimal risk situations, where the wearer can identify both the hazards and the protection level required, where the effects of the hazard are gradual and can be identified in a timely manner. Examples are gardening, cleaning with weak chemicals, protection against heat below 50 degrees Celcius, and against minor knocks and vibrations.
Category 3: Complex Design
This is where there is irreversible or mortal risk and the effects of the dangers cannot be identified in sufficient time. Examples include protection against temperatures below -50 degrees Celcius or higher than 100 degrees Celcius, or against strong chemicals or ionising radiation.
Category 2: Intermediate Risk
This is the largest category in term of capturing most of the hand protection issues which do not fall into either of the other two categories.
Protection against mechanical hazards is expressed by a pictogram followed by four numbers (performance levels), each representing test performance against a specific hazard.
1 Resistance to abrasion
Based on the number of cycles required to abrade through the sample glove (abrasion by sandpaper under a stipulated pressure). The protection factor is then indicated on a scale from 1 to 4 depending on how many revolutions are required to make a hole in the material. The higher the number, the better the glove. See table below.
2 Blade cut resistance
Based on the number of cycles required to cut through the sample at a constant speed. The protection factor is then indicated on a scale from 1 to 5.
3 Tear resistance
Based on the amount of force required to tear the sample. The protection factor is then indicated on a scale from 1 to 4.
4 Puncture resistance
Based on the amount of force required to pierce the sample with a standard sized point. The protection factor is then indicated on a scale from 1 to 4.
Test Performance level 1 2 3 4 5
Abrasion resistance (cycles) 100 500 2000 8000 n/a
Blade cut resistance (factor) 1,2 2,5 5,0 10,0 20
Tear resistance (newton) 10 25 50 75 n/a
Puncture resistance (newton) 20 60 100 150 n/a
COMMON GRIP TYPES AND DIP FINISHES
• Flat - Good Barrier Against Liquid
• Foamed - Good Grip Against Oil and Wet
• Foamed Over Flat - Combines Qualities of Both but at the expense of being Less Dextrous
• Crinkle - Good in Both Wet & Dry Conditions. Frequently Applied to Latex
• Sand Blasted - Additional Grip & Durability, Applied in Dip Process
• Granular Crumb - Extra Grip. Usually applied to Chemical Gauntlets
• Double Dipped - Good Durability, Less Dextrous
• Sponge - Good Comfort & Dexterity
• Waffle - Good Wet & Dry Grip
• Dot - Dry Grip, Cost Effective
• Criss Cross - Dry Grip, Cost Effective
• Embossed & Debossed - Wet Grip. Usually applied to Chemical Gauntlets
Popularly known as Drivers Glove. Model DG–YGC is made with a high quality soft cow grain supple leather with cotton lining for warmth and comfort. Leather Gloves reduce hand and finger fatigue.
This is a premium leather glove which is very soft and flexible with enhanced user comfort. It has an elasticated cuff for a secure fit, and a keystone thumb for comfort and dexterity.
The Driver Glove is ideal for working in carpentry, fridges and freezers, as well as general handling.
The three main types of disposable gloves, Nitrile, Latex and Vinyl come in a variety of thicknesses and options such as powder-free, lightly powdered and powdered, or a textured surface for extra grip. Powdering gloves makes them easier to put on, however because powder can attract bacteria and absorb perspiration the powder-free variety is preferred for medical applications.
They come in a variety of colours such as white, black, blue and pink for a colour-coded working environment where gloves of different colours are used for different purposes. The presence of strong beaded cuffs as well as the process of Double Chlorination help the wearers to put them on.
Beaded cuffs on disposable gloves make them more tear-resistant. Elongated cuffs add protection. Light chlorination increases resistance to chemicals, so this process is used for gloves that are popular in dentistry and surgery.
In applications where the gloves are worn for extended periods of time such as in hairdressing, the gloves can be impregnated with moisturisers like aloe vera, lanolin and vitamin E.
Disposable gloves are often ambidextrous.
(1) Nitrile Gloves: These are manufactured from synthetic nitrile butadiene rubber which provides better chemical and solvent resistance than any other type of disposable glove. A Nitrile coating gives increased resistance to oils, fats, high temperatures and dampness over latex and are generally more resistant to cuts, abrasions and chemicals than Vinyl or Latex gloves. Nitrile gloves offer better protection against permeation so are less water-absorbent in damp environments. Sometimes nitrile gloves are worn under other gloves to ensure waterproofing.
Their greater tolerance for higher temperatures than Latex makes them more durable for use in the automotive, manufacturing and agriculture industries where warm products often need to be handled.
Since they are also the strongest of the three categories they are popular in the chemical and photochemical industries as well as in scientific laboratories where so many chemicals are used where glove strength is critical.
Nitrile gloves offer greater puncture protection over latex (typically they are three times more puncture resistant) as well as increased durability in certain production areas, and so have become the preferred choice for many high-risk situations for example offering better resistance to blood contamination. Nitrile gloves tend to tear completely when punctured; this is viewed as a positive property as it shows up breakages which may otherwise be missed. Powder-free Nitrile gloves are medical grade and so used by doctors, dentists and other medical professionals. Nitrile examination gloves provide greater protection when handling drugs as well as an impermeable barrier to dangerous viruses and pathogens, thereby allaying fears of contamination. Examination gloves are often made using a process of Double Chlorination for ease of donning.
By offering a low resistance to friction Nitrile gloves are easier to put on and take off your hands than other rubber glove varieties. At the same time they are flexible and comfortable to wear, and all of these properties taken together has ensured that they have become the most popular of the disposable glove types, both within the UK and globally. They are also allergy-free.
(2) Latex Gloves: Latex is a white liquid that is harvested from the sap of a species of rubber tree. Latex Gloves are strong but thin and offer a more snug skintight fit than the other two glove types.
Latex gloves offer cost effective protection as well as providing good strength and chemical resistance. They are also more comfortable to wear than Nitrile gloves. As they are less strong than the equivalent Nitrile glove they are often the choice of laboratories or industrial complexes that are running on a tighter budget. This can make Latex gloves a less common choice where there are frequent personnel changes. Applications include health care work, cleaning, and laboratory work; they are used by restaurant staff, mechanics and scientists. Their disadvantage is that many people are allergic to the natural latex rubber compound. Latex gloves contain rubber proteins that can cause allergic reactions such as irritation or discomfort; it is thought that 6% of people are allergic to Latex.
(3) Vinyl Gloves: Vinyl gloves are a very low cost option and ideal for use in the food and janitorial industries where strength or exposure to chemicals are less of a factor rather than in laboratory applications that typically involve many chemicals or where high glove strength is needed. Vinyl Gloves are the least flexible of the disposable gloves as compared to Nitrile and Latex so they afford less comfort than similar gloves in these two categories, however they are an option in laboratories where budgets are tight and also in the education industry.