Everything You Need to Know About
Abrasion Resistant Gloves
Hand abrasion injuries
Hand abrasion injuries occur when skin is subjected to repeated rubbing and scraping against rough or hard surfaces, leading to blisters and calluses. Fortunately, these injuries can be reduced and prevented by wearing gloves that resist abrasion.
Forces at Work in An Abrasion-Resistant Glove
To understand abrasion resistance, we must first understand the underlying forces that cause abrasion injuries.
Friction is a resistive force that occurs when two surfaces in contact move relative to one another. In other words, the action of one surface or object rubbing against another. In the case of workers wearing safety gloves, this repeated force causes the glove’s material to wear off and exposes hands to injury risks.
How are these forces counteracted?
By wearing gloves made of materials that are durable and resist abrasion, ensuring that it’s harder to abrade or wear out the material too fast. The material’s thickness also plays a role as that is another factor of how quickly the material wears away.
How much abrasion protection do your workers need?
The most common material used for abrasion protection is leather due to its inherent resistance and durability. However, other materials are also used to manufacture abrasion-resistant gloves.
Already naturally durable and abrasion-resistant, leather is a frontrunner for most glove manufacturers and workers to protect against abrasive tasks and reduce glove wear and tear. Liners can be sewn into leather gloves to offer protection from additional hazards, and other additives and treatments can also be integrated to enhance glove performance.
Because leather is a natural material, it softens over time to conform to the hand’s shape. This adds to dexterity and comfort. However, not all types of leather offer equal protection. Cow leather is the most common type of leather used for safety gloves and offers high-abrasion resistance. Goat is a close second, due to its soft and supple feel and high dexterity. Other leather types offer varying levels of durability, dexterity, and abrasion resistance. To learn more about the key attributes and the differences between the various types of leather check out our Glove 101 guide | Glove Shell Materials that discusses the topic in detail.
In knit gloves, a lower gauge equals a thicker material which helps reduce wear and tear. But this alone offers only nominal protection against abrasive tasks. However, in recent years, synthetic materials have been engineered to compete with leather for abrasion resistance.
To improve abrasion resistance in knit gloves, glove manufacturers use other additives such as palm coatings and reinforced leather palms to increase durability and resistance against abrasive tasks.
Palm coatings act as an added layer to resist friction and provide a better grip against repeated sliding and rubbing, maintaining the longevity of the material before it abrades through the shell. Some of the more popular options for palm coatings for abrasion-resistant knit gloves include micropore nitrile, silicone, and latex, due to their high durability. At Superior Glove we also have our own specially formulated nitrile-based coating that maximizes durability and dexterity to achieve high abrasion resistance in our safety gloves.
Knit gloves with leather palms patches help achieve higher level of abrasion resistance as it improves durability in high wear and tear areas.
To learn more about glove palm coatings, their benefits, and limitations, check out our Glove 101 guide | Glove Additives and Treatments that discusses the topic in detail.
Mechanics gloves are essentially different layers of materials (natural or synthetic) sewn together to make gloves. This construction method allows us to integrate zoned protection. At Superior glove we maximize abrasion resistance in mechanics style gloves by adding reinforced thumb crotch and leather palms to improve durability and increase longevity in high wear and tear areas.
In chemical gloves, the entire glove shell is primarily constructed of the palm coating used in other safety gloves to enhance glove performance. Similar to palm coatings used in knit gloves discussed earlier, the more popular options for high abrasion-resistant chemical gloves include micropore nitrile, silicone, and latex, due to their high durability.
At Superior Glove, some of our chemical gloves are double coated for longer wear life and durability, increasing the time it takes to abrade through the material.
There is also the consideration of how soft and comfortable a glove is to help prevent the glove material itself from abrading the skin. For this reason, glove manufacturers line the gloves with softer and more comfortable materials such as cotton and nylon, or HPPE to help prevent injuries from the inside.
How much abrasion protection do your workers need?
To help you decide, industry standards were established with specific testing methods to assign protection levels for safety gloves, including abrasion resistance. These standards were introduced to create a common language for safety managers, distributors, and manufacturers to define protection levels and substantiate protection claims.
There are three industry standards governing abrasion protection
North America, the ANSI/ISEA 138-2019 North American Standard
The ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 Standard established the ASTM D3389-10 (for coated gloves) or ASTM D3884-09 (for uncoated gloves) standardized testing method for measuring the loss of material after being rubbed against harsh or rough surfaces.
The standard identifies six abrasion protection levels from 1 (least abrasion resistant) to 6 (most abrasion resistant).
The ASTM D3389-10 is the testing method for coated gloves, and the end point is the number of abrasion cycles when the coating is worn through. The ASTM D3884-09 is the testing method for uncoated gloves, and the end point is the number of abrasion cycles when the first thread or yarn is broken.
The palm of the abrasion-resistant glove, including the lining, is abraded using rotary rubbing action under controlled conditions of pressure and abrasive action. The test material is mounted on a rotating table with two abrasive wheels. The wheels rotate at a fixed pressure and speed until a hole in the sample material is present. The greater the number of cycles it takes to break down the sample material, the higher the abrasion resistance rating.
- Levels 1-3 are tested at a 500-gram load
- Levels 4-6 are tested at a 1,000-gram load
Europe, the EN388:2016 European Standard (CE)
The EN 388:2016 abrasion standard is measured from level 1-4 and uses the Martindale abrasion machine to measure the abrasiveness of each glove. The higher the number, the better the resistance to abrasion.
The Martindale abrasion machine conducts the abrasion test by placing a sample piece of the glove’s palm against the wheel covered in abrasive paper. Like the ANSI/ISEA standard, the glove material is abraded against until there is a hole present. This process is conducted four times, and of those four trails, the abrasion resistant rating is achieved with the lowest number of cycles completed before a hole is worn through. The greater the number of cycles it takes to abrade the safety material, the higher the abrasion rating.
UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) Standard
There are no differences in the testing methods and ranking levels between the European Union and United Kingdom standards. However, PPE sold in the UK is mandated to have an icon (as shown) to certify they conform with UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed)