Cut-Proof Gloves (and Other Misconceptions About Cut Resistance)
Understanding cut resistance can be difficult… at least according to our sales team. They speak with men and women of various industries every day who are wearing gloves designed to keep their hands safe from cuts and lacerations.
But knowing the science behind, and limitations to, these gloves isn’t as clear as it should be. Cut-proof gloves (and other misconceptions about cut resistance) is written to clear up the confusion around cut-resistant gloves and keep your hands safe.
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Cut-proof gloves are the unicorns of the safety world — no, not magical and wonderful. I mean entirely mythical.
There is no such thing as a cut-proof glove. If there was, we would only sell one glove and it would be called the “Perfect Glove 3000” and this job would be pretty boring.
What we manufacture is a cut-resistant glove and there are different levels of cut resistance based on the hazards you’re facing.
Even though cut-proof gloves don’t exist, gloves designed to be cut resistant are sometimes misinterpreted as being cut proof.
This leads to two things:
- People who get angry because their cut-proof glove didn’t withstand a sharp blade.
- People who get a false sense of security and perform tasks they normally would not.
They’re called cut-resistant gloves because realistically cuts can still occur. But by wearing a cut-resistant glove, a cut that required stitches becomes a cut that needs a band-aid.
So you know cut-proof gloves don’t exist, but what about performing a field test to see how cut-resistant a glove really is?
Makeshift Cut Test Methods:
These field tests might be taking a pair of scissors or a table saw or a machete — our sales team has heard it all — to a glove and being dissatisfied that the glove didn’t hold up.
But it’s not surprising.
Cut-resistant gloves are not designed to stop a pair of scissors (or those other test tools). They are tested and rated based on the standards set by American National Standards Institute’s (ANSI) ASTM F2992 cut test.
The science behind ANSI’s test method is to measure the cut resistance of a material against a razor blade under a specified load on a TDM-100 machine.
The test accounts for measuring errors by using a new blade each time the test is run. That’s because a dull blade would need more force to cut through the material.
The problem we find with performing a cut-resistance test in the field is that they are not realistic.
A pair of scissors will most certainly cut through a glove, even the “Perfect Glove 3000” cut-proof gloves. But how often does the cut hazard a worker is facing come from a pair of scissors cutting through their finger?
Leather is Cut Resistant:
The main reason we need cut-resistant gloves is that our skin doesn’t offer much protection. Since leather is just the skin of an animal, it can be cut just as easily. Some leather gloves like our Endura® Oilbloc™ Goatskin Anti-Impact Driver Gloves are cut resistant, but that is thanks to a Kevlar® lining.
Only the Palm is Cut Resistant:
We covered this question more in-depth in our post “Which Part of a Glove is Actually Cut Resistant?” but as a general rule, cut-resistant gloves will give you 360 degrees of protection.
If your glove is made using high performance yarns like Kevlar®, Dyneema® or TenActiv™, you should feel confident that the back of your hand is just as well protected as your fingers, palm or wrist.
This misconception is a little different because some gloves only have a cut-resistant palm. But, that should be made clear by the manufacturer.
(Learn 4 other telltale signs that you need a new glove manufacturer.)
Keep in mind that a glove’s coating will only slightly increase its cut resistance. 99.9% of the cut resistance of a glove comes from the yarns.
The Highest Rating = The Best Rating:
So cut-proof gloves don’t exist but surely the glove that has the highest cut resistance must be the best glove, right?
This probably seems pretty basic but it’s worth repeating: The best rated glove is the one that protects against the hazards you face. A worker who uses a box cutter once a day doesn’t need the same protection as someone who works in metal stamping eight hours a day.
Using a glove designed for heavy-duty cut protection for a light-duty application has a snowballing effect: If a worker has less dexterity in the glove, they won’t be able to do their job right. If they can’t do their job right, they won’t wear the glove and then compliance takes a hit. Then the risk of hand injury skyrockets!
Key Takeaways (TL;DR):
70 percent of workers who experienced hand injuries were not wearing gloves, and the other 30 percent were wearing the wrong type of glove.
Those numbers are staggering.
It means that wearing the right kind of glove is just as important as wearing gloves at all.
Ready to learn more?
Download The Definitive Guide to Hand Protection.