Glove 101

Glove 101

Everything you need to know about gloves!

Introduction

High-visibility mechanic gloves featuring goatskin leather palms, para-aramid lining, and breathable fourchette inserts between fingers. These durable gloves also offer ANSI Level A3 abrasion resistance.

Have you ever read the product description for safety gloves and wondered what exactly the glove manufacturer is trying to communicate? With all this “technical glove jargon,” how do you know which safety gloves offer the right level of protection for workers without inhibiting glove performance or comfort? And with countless safety glove options available on the market, where do you even start?

You start by bridging the information gap to gain an understanding of what goes into manufacturing safety gloves, and the complementary features that influence their performance. In short, you start by reading this guide!

Wearing the right safety gloves—comfortable, correctly sized, and engineered with the right materials—can protect a wearer’s hands against workplace hazards, avoiding potentially life-altering injuries. This is why, we’ve done the legwork for you and created this comprehensive guide with key information on safety gloves. Reading this guide will benefit you in making an informed decision when choosing the next safety gloves for your workers.

To make it easy for the readers, we’ve divided this Glove 101 guide into sections that will cover the following topics:

Glove Categories

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Glove Components

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Glove Additives & Treatments

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Glove Sizing

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Glove Laundering

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Glove Safety Standards

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Let’s begin!

Glove Categorization

Before we dive into the specific components of safety gloves, let’s first look at the fundamental characteristics and construction methods that help categorize these gloves.

There are five main types of work gloves:

LEATHER
STRING KNIT
MECHANICS
CHEMICAL
DISPOSABLE

Each glove type offers various benefits and features that make them the better option for specific tasks and hazards. However, they each have their limitations that also need to be considered before choosing those best-suited in your work environment.

The table below provides a quick comparative summary of the defining characteristics and limitations of each type of work glove. Later, we will discuss each of them in detail.

Glove Types

Glove Shell Construction

Features and Attributes

Limitations

Leather

Cut pieces are sewn together (has seams)

Common leathers: cow, sheep, goat, pig, horse, buffalo, deer, elk

  • Highly durable
  • High abrasion resistance
  • Naturally flame resistant
  • Less dexterous than string knit
  • Least cost-effective when compared to others

String knit

Seamless knit

Common fibers: cotton, nylon, polyester, HPPE, para-aramid

  • High dexterity
  • High breathability
  • Engineered yarns can offer several hazard protections
  • Lower durability than leather

Mechanics

Layers of different materials

  • Cut and sewn
  • High dexterity
  • Variety of protection offerings
  • Zoned protection
  • Less dexterous than string knit
  • Less durable than leather

Chemical

Nitrile, Neoprene, Latex, PVC

  • Resists liquid and chemical penetration
  • Can resist chemical degradation
  • Provides limited range of mechanical protection

Disposable

Nitrile, Latex, polyethylene

  • Prevents cross contamination
  • Offers the lowest durability

Most safety gloves are either leather or string knit, or a combination of the two (mechanics). Other gloves include chemical and disposable gloves. Let’s take a closer look at their unique construction styles, and key features and attributes.

Anatomy of Safety Gloves
01
Shell
02
Palm Coating
03
Cuff
04
Thumb
Glove Shell Construction
Seamless Knit

Seamless knit style describes all string knit gloves that are knitted on a hand form using automatic glove knitting machines. During the process, there is no point at which the yarns have to be sewn together—hence, they are seamless. A benefit of having no seams is that it improves glove strength by removing stress points where they can be ripped. Another advantage of this construction style is that in using yarn (as opposed to leather), the finished form is more dexterous, softer, and pliable.

Knitting it around a hand form also allows glove manufacturers to integrate ergonomic considerations, like the curves of the fingers, which makes these gloves more comfortable to wear. It is also a more cost-effective and quicker method compared to the cut-and-sew style used in the manufacturing of leather and mechanics gloves, which we will discuss next.

Cut-And-Sew

Leather and mechanics gloves are manufactured using the cut-and-sew method. What this essentially means is that different pieces of material are cut out and then stitched together to manufacture these safety gloves. An advantage of this style is that it allows glove manufacturers to achieve different sizing requirements more easily. But stitching pieces of materials together also means that these gloves will have seams and impact the feel and dexterity of these gloves.

How different pieces are stitched together in a cut-and-sew construction style is determined by the glove pattern used. And when we say pattern, it’s the way the fingers and other pieces of the material are attached.

Let’s explore these patterns.

Cut-And-Sew Glove Patterns

Hover to learn more about the different patterns.

Gunn Cut

  • Seamless back
  • One “gunn” seam at the base of the two middle fingers facing the palm
  • Seam in a natural hand crease allows fingers to easily bend
  • Seam in a removed area reduces glove wear out
  • Most common type of pattern

Clute Cut

  • Individual strips of leather sewn together
  • Three long seams at the back of the hand
  • More break points improve dexterity and range of motion
  • Old pattern and not commonly used

Fourchettes

  • Individual strips of fabric that go up the back of the hand and sewn between the fingers
  • Seamless palm design eliminates wear points
  • Inserts between the fingers boost flexibility and comfort

Straight Thumb

  • Thumb sewn straight up – parallel to the other fingers
  • Fast to sew and easiest to attach
  • Most economical choice

Wing Thumb

  • Thumb sewn on completely flat to the side of the glove like a wing
  • Fast to sew
  • Cost-effective

Keystone Thumb

  • Thumb sewn more onto the palm side
  • Harder to attach than a wing thumb
  • Offers better ergonomics than wing and straight

Essentially, when constructing leather gloves, the goal is to achieve durability, dexterity, and maintain a sense of feel. And, when constructing mechanics gloves, the benefit of this method allows for zoned or targeted protection in areas that require it most.

Another feature you might have to consider when selecting safety gloves is cuff styles.

Cuffs Style

There are various styles of cuffs to protect and support your workers’ wrists and arms on the job. For safety and ease of use, it is important to ensure that the glove cuffs are appropriate for the task at hand.

GAUNTLET
A gauntlet cuff is used to extend protection up the arm. They start at 4 inches and can go up to shoulder length (18-24 inches). This style is helpful for tasks that involve the risk of chemical splashes/spillage or sparks. Gauntlet cuffs also protects outside elements getting into the gloves. This style is most commonly used in chemical and leather gloves.

SAFETY CUFF
A safety cuff is designed for quick removal, to avoid serious hand injuries. The wrist is snug enough to keep hands protected, but loose enough to shake gloves off. This style is most commonly used in leather and mechanics.

HOOK AND LOOP (VELCRO)
A hook and loop cuff allows variable fit at the wrist. It makes gloves easier to put on and take off and also tightens them. However, dust and debris can get clogged up in the fabric. This style is most commonly used in mechanics gloves.

ADJUSTABLE PULL STRAP
As the name suggests, an adjustable pull strap allows workers to tighten the glove once on. Providing a snug fit at the wrists. This style is most commonly used in mechanics gloves.

KNIT WRIST
A string knit glove will almost always have a knit wrist. And only sometimes will it be knit to a certain point and then have a hook and loop or Velcro strap to secure the gloves.

Key Features And Attributes Of Safety Gloves
Leather Gloves

Leather gloves are highly durable, made with tanned hides of various animals and are a popular choice for tasks that require abrasion, heat, and fire resistance. 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. But not all leather grains are created equal. The part of the animal’s body the hide comes from contributes to leather’s overall thickness, feel, dexterity, durability, and comfort. We will discuss this in more detail in the next section.

Note: The only mechanical protection that leather gloves really provide is abrasion resistance. While thicker and more abrasive hides may also offer a degree of cut and puncture protection—it is nominal. This is because leather is just skin, and skin inherently offers almost no cut or puncture resistance. For this reason, some leather gloves are paired with other engineered materials to enhance protection.

String Knit Gloves

Thanks to engineered yarn, string knit gloves can offer protection from a variety of hazards. Engineered yarns incorporate the benefits of two or more fibers to make them an even stronger yarn. This also allows us to integrate higher levels of protection without compromising comfort or dexterity. Like leather, other additives and treatments can also be integrated into string knit gloves to enhance performance. Further explanation of the materials used for string knit gloves will be discussed in the next section under glove shell materials.

Another important factor to consider for knit gloves is the glove’s gauge. Glove gauge, which is actually the gauge of the yarn (i.e., string) used to make the glove, typically ranges from 7- to 21-gauge. Lower gauge gloves are thicker and offer more cushioning and durability, while higher gauge gloves are thinner and more dexterous but not as durable. No one gauge is better than the other. It all depends on the tasks and hazards for which they’re needed. A more in-depth discussion on glove gauges will be covered under glove materials, later in this guide.

Mechanics Gloves

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. What this means is that protection can be localized to glove areas where hands are at high risk of injury. Another advantage of mechanics gloves is that there is a wider variety of material options that can be sewn onto the gloves that would otherwise be difficult to incorporate in other types of gloves.

Chemical Gloves

Chemical gloves are designed to repel liquids and fluids. The outer shell of chemical gloves is fully coated to resist penetration and soak through of liquids, as well as to resist chemical degradation.

Chemical gloves can be supported or unsupported. An easy way to understand is to think of it as lined or unlined. A lining that supports the glove acts like a skeleton for the glove to maintain its shape, even without a hand in it. On the other hand, an unsupported glove cannot keep its shape without a hand wearing it. Cotton and nylon are the two most common materials used as liners for chemical gloves. Less often, you will see high-strength fibers like para-aramid or HPPE being used as well. Essentially, the lining adds to the gloves comfort, durability, and ease of donning and doffing gloves.

The best way to shop for these gloves is to identify the chemical you’re handling and match it to the glove material that resists that chemical. For this, you can ask an expert or consult your chemical SDS (safety data sheet).

Disposable Gloves

Disposable gloves are primarily used in the food and health industry to prevent product contamination of bodily fluids, bacteria, etc. They are commonly made with nitrile, and sometimes, made with latex (though latex poses the risk of allergic reactions).

Further discussion on features and attributes of materials used to manufacture chemical and disposable gloves will be covered in the glove coatings section, later in this guide.

Glove Components

Now that we have a basic understanding of the types of safety gloves, the next step is to break them down to their constituent components and see how each influences protection levels, dexterity, and comfort. This requires a deeper understanding of:

Glove Shell Materials
Additives and Treatments
Safety Glove Shell Materials

The glove shell, or more specifically, the glove shell material, is considered the foundation of all safety gloves. It is the core frame that is built upon by incorporating additives and other treatments to further enhance glove performance and comfort.

Glove shell materials for most glove types (leather, string knit, and mechanics) can essentially be divided into two major categories: leather and knitted yarn. Materials used for other gloves (chemical and disposable) will be discussed later in this guide under glove coatings.

Leather Materials

Grain or split leather? Gloves made with cow, sheep, goat, or another hide? How do you choose between all these options?

The wide variety of options available for leather gloves doesn’t always make it easy to choose from. By understanding the key attributes and the differences between each type, it can help you make an educated decision.

As noted earlier, leather offers high durability and abrasion resistance and nominal cut and puncture resistance. But not all leather grains are created equal. When choosing leather gloves for specific tasks, it is important to pay attention to:

What part of the animal’s body the hide comes from
What side of the skin is used (also known as the leather finish)

Belly

Economic (good)

Leather cut from the belly is less durable and often used for economy grade gloves and trims

Back

Medial (better)

Leather cut from back is less optimal than shoulder, but still of high quality. This is the most cost-effective option and makes up for the bulk of material used in manufacturing safety gloves

Shoulder

Premium (best)

Leather cut from the shoulder offers the greatest durability and is the most optimal choice for gloves

Leather Finishes

In animals that have a thick hide like cow and buffalo, leather can be separated between the upper “top grain” and the lower “split” leather.

Grain
Grain leather is high-quality leather that is soft and pliable. It also has a more appealing appearance and is more expensive than split leather. But the big advantage for workers is that it resists oils and other liquids.
Split (Or Suede)
Split leather is created from the lower, fibrous part of the hide once the top-grain has been separated. It is a bit more rugged than grain leather which adds to durability. It is also more cost-effective. But the actual hidden benefit of split leather is that when working on oily surfaces, split leather will absorb some of that oil (as it is more porous) to improve grip.

It is also important to note that leather harvesting is a byproduct of food production. And the quality of leather directly impacts the cost of the gloves.

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. A quick overview of each type of leather is listed below.

Cowhide

Cowhide is economical, thick, and rugged, offering high durability and abrasion resistance. Although it can be stiff at first, cowhide breaks in easily.

 

Goatskin

Goatskin is high quality, thinner, and more supple than cowhide, but less durable. Because goatskin is so thin, it cannot be split into split leather.

 

Pigskin

Pigskin is more rugged and durable than goatskin, but also less supple. Pigskin leather stays soft after getting wet due to a high lanoline content. Like cowhide, it is very affordable. Like goatskin, pigskin cannot be split into split leather.

Sheepskin

Sheepskin is extremely soft, supple, and dexterous, with a feel that is velvety smooth. It is incredibly versatile and works for both cool and hot climates. Sheepskin gloves are great for comfort but sacrifice on durability and abrasion resistance.

Deerskin

Deerskin is also extremely soft, supple, and dexterous, but less durable when compared to sheepskin. Like sheepskin, deerskin gloves are best for comfort, but sacrifice durability and abrasion resistance.

Elk Skin

Elk skin carries a lot of the qualities of deerskin, but with a lot more durability.

Buffalo

Buffalo hide is very thick and rigid, but not very supple. It offers high abrasion resistance making it durable, rugged, and strong.

Horsehide

Horsehide is tough and durable. It is more rugged than cow, but the least supple of all the leathers. Horsehide is also one of the more expensive leathers to use for gloves.

As you notice, when selecting between the different types of leathers, the key tradeoff is between durability and dexterity—how rugged the hide is versus how supple it is. And choosing the right safety gloves depends on the task you’re using the gloves for. For instance, tasks that require a greater sense of motion or dexterity, elk skin, deerskin, or goatskin should be the choice of leather for those gloves. For tasks where there is a high risk of arc flash, a more rugged material like cow split, horse, or buffalo will offer the necessary protection. Liners are usually sewn into leather gloves to offer additional protection from hazards, and other additives and treatments can also be integrated to enhance glove performance. To learn more about hazard-specific materials, additives, and treatments used to enhance glove’s mechanical protection, check out our articles on understanding hazards here.

Knitted Yarn

Let’s take a quick behind the scenes look at how yarns are engineered. This will help understand how different gloves materials blend together to enhance glove performance.

All knitted gloves start off as fibers, whether natural or synthetic. These fibers are then either combed, melted, or engineered into yarns. From there, various yarns are spun together using a yarn spinning machine onto a spool (cylindrical device on which thread can be wound). The spools of yarn are then connected to another machine that twists and knits the gloves.

The fundamental yarn materials used in manufacturing safety gloves include:

Yarn Type

Features and Attributes

Limitations

Cotton

  • Natural fiber
  • Very soft and comfortable
  • Naturally heat resistant
  • Moisture absorption properties

Cotton is primarily used in gloves as a liner for comfort

  • Not as strong as synthetic fibers

Nylon and Polyester

  • Soft and comfortable
  • Offers better durability and stretch quite well compared to natural fibers
  • Cost effective

Nylon and polyester are primarily used in safety gloves as a liner for comfort

  • Thermoplastic: melts under heat

HPPE

  • High-strength synthetic fiber
  • Softer and cooler to wear
  • More dexterous and flexible than para-aramid

As a high-strength fiber, HPPE offers some degree of mechanical protection on its own against cut and puncture hazards

  • Thermoplastic: melts under heat

Para-aramid

  • High-strength synthetic fiber
  • Natural flame and heat resistance

As a high-strength fiber, para-aramid offers some degree of mechanical protection on its own against cut and puncture hazards

  • Dense fiber compared to HPPE is rougher and warmer to wear
  • Less dexterous and flexible than HPPE
  • Lower tactile feel compared to HPPE

Additional materials are usually engineered into the above-mentioned primary materials for mechanical protection and other benefits, including cut, puncture, flame, heat, dexterity, and comfort. Other additives and treatments can also be integrated to enhance glove performance.  However, these additional materials do not make up the majority of the glove and are added to complement the protection workers need for specific hazards. To learn more about hazard-specific materials, additives, and treatments used to enhance glove’s mechanical protection, check out our articles on understanding hazards here.

Glove Gauge And Its Impact On Glove Performance

Gauge is defined as the number of stitches included in each inch of yarn. As the number of stitches increase, so does the gauge. Note that although gauge refers to the yarn, it’s common to hear it called glove gauge. This has the same meaning and is a shorthand way of referring to the thickness or thinness of a glove.

You might think that lower-gauge equals lighter and higher-gauge equals heavier—but in fact, the opposite is true. Lower-gauge gloves are thicker and less dexterous, while higher-gauge gloves are lighter and offer more dexterity.

However, no one gauge is better than the other. It all depends on the tasks and hazards for which they’re needed. For instance, if comparing a 7-gauge glove to a 21-gauge glove, the 7 gauge will be less dexterous, because it’s less flexible and has a lower tactile feel. If fine motor skill is needed, this is an issue. But, if the task requires heavy lifting that includes sharp and abrasive objects, then workers might prefer a thicker glove as it offers increased cushioning and durability. Refer to the chart below for a quick reference of glove gauge versus glove performance.

Glove Additives and Treatments

Additive and treatments are incorporated into safety gloves to complement existing features or add features that may be missing. These can include:

Palm Coating

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Glove Linings

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Glove Treatments

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Palm Coatings

Palm coatings serve as an additional layer of protection on safety gloves that can be tailored for specific tasks and work conditions. When it comes to mechanical protection, all palm coatings offer some degree of abrasion and puncture resistance (depending on the thickness of the coating). Palm coatings also contribute to improved grip and durability.

We’ve listed below the most popular coating materials with their benefits and limitations to help guide you better.

Coating Material

Features and Attributes

Limitations

Flat Nitrile

Nitrile is the most versatile palm coating. It offers the best wet/oil grip compared to others. This is especially true with foam and micropore nitrile. It is highly durable, more than PU (Polyurethane) but less than latex. Flat nitrile is also tougher than the porous foam and micropore nitrile.

Limited dexterity and stiffen up in cold temperatures.

Foam and Micropore Nitrile

Foam and micropore nitrile are made by introducing air bubbles into the nitrile mixture. This creates a space where liquids can escape to when working with wet or oily surfaces.

Foam and micropore nitrile are very similar, in that they offer excellent wet/oil grip, but achieve results differently. While foam nitrile absorbs and disperses liquid in the palm for improved grip, micropore acts like suction cups to enhance grip.

Limited dexterity and stiffen up in cold temperatures.

Latex

Latex is very economical and offers strong dry grip. Because it is a natural rubber, it has a little more stretch to it when compared to nitrile and offers better durability and puncture resistance.

Latex does not have very strong wet grip and stiffens up in cold temperatures. It is also very susceptible to natural solvents (organic solvents), so it degrades overtime as it dries out and is prone to cracking.

Crinkle Latex

Crinkle latex has a larger surface area on the palm compared to flat latex. This helps improve the grip even more, even wet grip, because gives the water some place to go. As a natural rubber, it is very durable and offers good puncture resistance.

Even though crinkle latex helps improve wet grip, overall it is better for dry grip applications.  Crinkle latex also stiffen up in cold temperatures.

Neoprene

Neoprene is not as common and primarily used for its natural high flame resistance. For instance, neoprene palm coating is used in string knit gloves to achieve arc flash protection.

Less durable and poorer oil/wet grip than nitrile.

PVC

PVC offers natural resistance to a lot of chemicals and is ideal for working in extremely cold temperatures—it doesn’t stiffen up.

PVC does not have very good tactility and is prone to tearing.

Silicone

Silicone is quite unique. It offers high heat resistance as it has a very high melting point, and good abrasion and puncture resistance. It is also very adhesive resistant.

Silicon offers poor wet grip. It also contaminates the surface you’re working on, which affects the quality of finished products.

Polyurethane (PU)

PU coatings offer a high level of dexterity and tactility. PU is the most commonly used material for non-marring gloves. There are two types of PU coatings: water-based PU and solvent-based PU.

PU coatings are less durable and offer poor wet grip and average dry grip when compared to other coatings. They also stiffen up and crack in cold temperatures.

The two types of PU:

Water-Based PU

Thinner, tactile, and offers a higher level of dexterity than solvent-based PU.

Not as durable as solvent-based PU.

Solvent-Based PU

More durable and tackier than water-based PU.

Less tactile than water-based PU.

The same palm coating materials listed above serves as the glove shell for chemical and disposable gloves, in which the entire glove is primarily constructed of that coating. Let’s review the key considerations to keep in mind when selecting materials for chemical and disposable gloves one more time.

Chemical Gloves

The primary consideration is the material’s resistance to the chemical you’re interacting with. For this, you can ask an expert or consult your chemical SDS (safety data sheet).

Disposable Gloves

The primary consideration is the transfer of contaminants from the wearer to the product. Common materials used for disposable gloves include nitrile, latex, and vinyl (PVC).

Glove Liners

Glove liners serve as an additional layer to enhance comfort, warmth, or mechanical protection for the wearer, depending on the task and work conditions. Read on to learn how.

Lining For Insulation

When we say glove insulation, we’re essentially talking about preventing the external temperature from interfering with the hand’s temperature—also known as thermal control. And we use different materials to achieve this.

For gloves meant for shoulder or summer season, the lining is made of materials that resist heat i.e., materials resist change in temperatures and prevent the loss of cool air trapped inside the gloves. A good example of this type of material is para-aramid (refer to the section on glove shell materials to review the features, attributes, and limitations of different glove materials).

For winter gloves, we use materials that allow to trap in as much warm air as possible. And the more air it traps, the warmer the glove will be. The two most common glove liners used to keep workers’ hands warm in the winter seasons include:

THINSULATE™

Thinsulate™ is a breathable and moisture-resistant insulator that offers optimum warmth in cold environments. It is effective at trapping air and keeping hands warm while allowing moisture to escape. Thinsulate™ liners are better for warmth when compared to fleece, but it is also more costly.

The level of Thinsulate™ used for lining is measured in GSM (grams per square meter). This describes how much insulation is added to the gloves (the thickness of the liner). Generally, 100 GSM is sufficient to keep hands warm without losing on dexterity for most winter temperatures, down to -25°C. 200 GSM lining is used for heavy-duty winter safety gloves, but this also makes the gloves thicker and heavier, so you’re also losing some level of dexterity.

ACRYLIC OR FLEECE LINERS

Acrylic or fleece liners are a good starting point as the temperatures are just starting to drop. It is one of the most common lightweight options that is warmer than cotton or foam lining and less bulky than other insulations. Gloves with fleece liners could also be sufficient for indoor workspaces that are kept at cooler temperatures.

Membrane Lining

Membrane liners, also known as impermeable liners, are used for waterproofing safety gloves. In this method, a layer of waterproof membrane (plastic base) is inserted into the gloves to create a barrier that prohibits the water drops from passing through. This helps keep the hands comfortable and dry in wet working conditions.

When it comes to safety work gloves, there are two commonly used construction methods to achieve waterproofing gloves:

01
Double-layer construction:
Safety gloves constructed with double-layer waterproofing feature a waterproof outer membrane and an inner layer for comfort. This inner layer will also offer much needed breathability and helps wick moisture (sweat) away from the wearer’s hands. These types of waterproof gloves are also lightweight and less bulky. A simpler way to understand this is if you think of a lined rain jacket. Most lined rain jackets have an outer waterproof layer to keep your clothes from getting wet and a soft inner lining for a comfortable feel. One apparent drawback of the double-layer construction method is that if the outer layer is damaged, it compromises the waterproofing of the gloves.
02
Triple-layer construction:
In the triple-layer construction method, the membrane is sandwiched between an outer protective layer and an inner liner. The outer layer is usually made of materials that offer mechanical protection required for the task like cut, puncture, abrasion etc., whereas the inner layer is intended for comfort and breathability. Materials like nylon and cotton are popular choices for the inner layer. The most commonly used material for the membrane is polyethylene.

This triple-layer design is considered the most durable (i.e., less wear and tear) and breathable, but it is also more costly to do when compared to other construction methods.

The way the membrane is fastened in between the two layers differs for different types of safety gloves.

    • For leather and mechanics, the waterproofing membrane is inserted in between two layers. The inner layer is stitched with the outer layer without the stitches going through the membrane to avoid puncturing and damaging it. A drawback of this technique is that because there are three distinct layers, it can lead to slippage between materials which reduces the gloves’ sense of feel and dexterity.
    • For string knit gloves, the waterproofing membrane is laminated in between the outer and inner layers. This process allows all three layers to unify as a single layer, so there is no slippage between any materials.
Lining For Mechanical Protection, Comfort, And Durability

As already discussed earlier, liners can be added (either sewn or inserted) to enhance mechanical protection. For example, leather gloves on their own don’t offer significant protection from cuts or punctures. Leather gloves that offer mechanical protection against cuts and puncture have liners or inserts with these properties added to them.

Similarly, liners can be added into gloves to improve comfort and sense of feel by using materials like cotton and nylon, or for structural support, as is the case in chemical gloves. You can refer to features and attributes of chemical gloves under glove categorization to review this information again.

Glove Treatments

Glove treatments are a cost-effective way to introduce features in gloves that may otherwise be costly. Some of the most commonly used treatments include:

Oil Resistance

Most commonly, oil resistance treatment such as Oilbloc™ is sprayed on safety gloves to prevent absorption of oils. This treatment is applied to gloves with leather that have a natural tendency to absorb oils.

At Superior Glove, Oilbloc™ treatment is incorporated during the tanning process, so it penetrates deep into the leather. This way, even if part of the glove wears out, there is still Oilbloc™ present in the gloves.

Waterproof Treatment

Waterproof treatment (different from waterproofing gloves using a membrane lining) is sprayed on and creates a barrier to prevent fibers from soaking up liquids. It can be applied on leather, mechanics, or string knit gloves.

Anti-Microbial

Anti-microbial treatment inhibits bacterial growth and is used only in string knit gloves. The treatment is washed into the fabric, which means that the material absorbs the chemical during the wash.

Pre-Washing

Pre-washing is essentially controlled pre-shrinking of string knit gloves to avoid undersized gloves after laundering.

Additional Features To Enhance Glove Performance

There are additional features that can be incorporated into gloves to achieve more specific features necessary for your work tasks or conditions.

    • Finger caps: Crush resistant shell inside the tips of the fingers to help resist crushing. However, finger caps reduce the level of dexterity.
    • Touchscreen: Powdered carbon is incorporated into the palm coating to make safety gloves touchscreen compatible.
    • High visibility (Hi-viz): Hi-viz shell or retro reflective strips (orange, green, or yellow) to enhance hand placement visibility and measure glove compliance.
    • Non-marring: Marring is the effect of leaving behind residue/markings after touching a product, like fingerprints on a glass. Non-marring gloves are ideal for quality control for finished products.
    • Dotted palms: dotted palms help improve grip, but only marginally.
    • Back-of-hand impact protection can be sewn or molded into gloves to protect workers’ hands from injuries. It is rated on a scale of 0-3, with level 3 offering the highest level of impact protection. Thermoplastic rubber (TPR) is the most popular material used for back-of-hand impact protection. Superior Glove and some other manufacturers use a proprietary blend of materials to achieve higher levels.

In addition to the glove specific considerations we’ve discussed above, there are other, equally important, factors to keep in mind when choosing safety gloves to ensure wearability, cost-effectiveness, comfort, and other factors that determine successful adoption. These include:

    • Glove sizing
    • Glove Laundering
    • Hand protection classification for workplace hazards
Glove Sizing

Glove fit is crucial in determining its wearability and hazard protection. If the gloves are too small, it can restrict movement of the hands and discourage workers from wearing them. Similarly, loose gloves can slip off at the slightest movement and make handling tasks difficult. In either case, the wearer is exposed to risk of serious injury.

There are two measurements that determine the size of gloves:

    • Distance around your knuckles
    • Overall length of your gloves (palm to fingertips).

 

And there are ways to identify if your gloves fit poorly:

  1. Overall finger length—if the finger crotch does not fit to the base of your fingers, or if you have excess material on the fingertips, this indicates you should size up or size down, respectively.
  2. The palm—if the glove’s palm doesn’t cover your palm fully, this indicates that your gloves are too small and you should size up.
  3. Excess material—excess material around your hands or bunching in your palms when you close your hands indicates that the gloves are oversized. This means you should size down.

Measure your hands and refer to the chart below to find your ideal glove size.

Glove Laundering

Laundering gloves can help in saving costs. Gloves made from high-quality materials can be laundered to increase their wear life without impeding performance.

Read on to learn some basic considerations to keep in mind when laundering gloves.

Leather

Ideally, leather gloves should be dry cleaned.
If you plan to wash your leather gloves at home, you will want to use a leather conditioning soap that will replenish the oils back into gloves.

Para-Aramid
    • Wash in hot water (170°F/75°F)
    • Tumble dry high heat (155°F/70°C)
    • No bleach

When washing gloves made with para-aramid materials, avoid using bleach at all costs. Using bleach will damage the glove almost immediately. Also, long exposure to UV light weakens the material and shortens the glove’s lifespan. Therefore, para-aramid gloves should not be kept under direct sunlight for too long when drying.

HPPE, Nylon, And Polyester
    • Wash in warm water (105°F/40°C)
    • Tumble dry on medium to low heat

HPPE, nylon, and polyester are thermoplastic materials, which means they can melt when exposed to heat. When laundering gloves made of these materials, ensure that you do not wash them in hot water. You can use regular detergents and bleach, but not high or sanitation heat.

Cotton
    • Wash in cold water ((85°F/30°C)
    • Tumble dry on low or no heat

The only consideration to keep in mind when laundering gloves made with cotton materials is the risk of shrinkage. For this reason, while you can use regular detergents and bleach for cotton gloves, avoid using high or sanitation heat.

Hand Protection Classification For Workplace Hazards

Not all safety gloves protect equally. Gloves designed for one type of hazard may not sufficiently to protect against another, even though they may look similar. And the nature of the hazard will affect the selection of your gloves.

So, how do you determine which gloves offer the right level of protection for your worker?

To solve this problem, industry standards were established that refer to specific test methods to assign protection levels for safety gloves, including cut, impact, puncture, arc flash, heat, flame, vibration, abrasion, cold, and chemical. These standards were introduced to create a common language for safety managers, distributors, and manufacturers to define protection levels and be held accountable for their claims.

Industry standards that govern protection levels for workplace hazards include:

    1. In North America, the ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 and ANSI/ISEA 138-2019 North American Standard
    2. In Europe, the EN388 European Standard (CE)
    3. In UK, UK Standard (UKCA)—developed when the UK split from the EU
    4. NFPA 2112 (The National Fire Protection Agency Standard)
NORTH AMERICAN STANDARD (ANSI/ISEA 105, ANSI/ISEA 138)

The ANSI standard specifies the classification and testing requirements for hand protection. They then refer the test methods as per the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) or EN (European Standard) test methods to assign protection levels for safety gloves. This classification can assist users in the selection of gloves for specific workplace hazards.

Check out the table below for a quick summary of the ANSI safety standards for protective gloves against hazards, including cut, impact, puncture, heat, abrasion, dexterity, and vibration.

Hazards

Icon

ANSI Ratings/levels (lowest to highest)

Cut

ANSI/ISEA 105 (A1 – A9)

Impact

ANSI/ISEA 138 (1 – 3)

Puncture (Probe)

ANSI/ISEA 105 (1 – 5)

Puncture (Hypodermic Needle)

ANSI/ISEA 105 (1 – 5)

Heat

ANSI/ISEA 105 (1 – 5)

Abrasion

ANSI/ISEA 105 (1 – 6)

Vibration

ANSI/ISEA 105 (Pass or Fail)

CE-EN 388 European Standard

The CE-EN388 is a mandatory European standard that dictates the testing methods and performance ranges for gloves that provide protection against mechanical hazards, including abrasion, cut, tear, puncture, cut (TDM test), impact, and cold.

Check out the table below for a quick reference of the EN388 safety standards for protective gloves and the score marking under the EN388 shields.

Hazards

Ratings

Abrasion Resistance

1 – 4

Cut Resistance – Coup Test

1 – 5

Tear Resistance

1 – 4

Puncture Resistance

1 – 4

Cut Resistance, TDM Test

A – F

Impact Protection

P, F, X

UK Standard (UKCA)

The CE-EN388 is a mandatory European standard that dictates the testing methods and performance ranges for gloves that provide protection against mechanical hazards, including abrasion, cut, tear, puncture, cut (TDM test), impact, and cold.

Check out the table below for a quick reference of the EN388 safety standards for protective gloves and the score marking under the EN388 shields.

NFPA 2112

The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) 2112 standard establishes the minimum requirements for the design, construction, performance, evaluation, certification, and testing methods for the manufacturing flame-resistant (FR) PPE used in areas at risk from short-duration thermal exposure from fire.

NFPA 2112 was originally established for FR garments. In the most recent edition in 2018, testing standards were also extended to include hand protection, whereby gloves manufactured in compliance with the standard provide protection against flash fires to the wearer’s hands and wrist.

NFPA 2112 compliant gloves are identified by the following marking:

Next Steps

By now, you should have a clearer understating of what goes into manufacturing safety gloves, its meaning, and the complementary features and attributes that influence their performance. However, glove knowledge does not end here. The next step is to learn about gloves designed for various hazards and how these gloves protect the wearer by counteracting the underlying forces that lead to injury. To learn this, and more, stay tuned for updates on our resource page for new and upcoming posts.

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