Cut-resistant gloves are designed to protect workers from cut and laceration hazards.
But even within this one category of safety gloves there is a lot of confusion about how they work and how to choose the right ones. Perhaps this confusion is why hand injuries are still so common. In fact, hand injuries are the second most common injury in the workplace, behind back injuries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 70% of workers who experience hand-related injuries were not wearing safety gloves at the time of the incident. The other 30% had gloves on, but they were either inadequate or the wrong type of gloves for the job.
These injuries can be expensive too. Recent data shows that a hand laceration or puncture costs almost $31,000 per workers’ compensation claim.
Because hand injuries are still so prevalent in today’s workforce, it’s important to educate yourself and your fellow employees about how to choose the right cut-resistant safety gloves.
Modern Glove Technology Comes with Many Options
In the past, cut-resistant gloves were extremely thick and hard to work with. Now, manufacturers have developed ways to create safety gloves that are lightweight, comfortable, and provide high levels of protection.
There should be no excuse for your employees not to be wearing their safety gloves.
Cut-Resistant Glove Materials
Cut-resistant gloves are made from materials constructed with an inner “core” that is bound by an outer wrap. Some gloves are also dipped in a coating to provide lightweight protection with a solid grip.
The core can be made from fiberglass, basalt, steel, or a blended combination. Generally, fiberglass provides the lowest level of protection and steel provides the greatest.
The outer wrap is usually made from either HPPE or Aramid, both of which offer cut-resistance properties. The wrap is added with filler materials such as nylon, polyester, or spandex to make the glove more flexible.
Common coating options for safety gloves include:
Each of them have their pros and cons.
Polyurethane is soft, flexible, and offers good dexterity. However, it’s less abrasion resistant and makes it harder to grip objects in heavy oil.
Nitrile on the other hand stands up well in oil and provides better abrasion and puncture resistance, but that results in less dexterity.
Latex generally provides the best overall grip in dry settings, but can cause allergic reactions for some employees.
Cut Resistant Glove Levels
All cut-resistant gloves are marked with a rating that identifies the level of protection that they provide. Most gloves will actually be marked with two ratings. The first comes from the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The second rating is a European standard (EN).
OSHA glove standards refer to the ANSI ratings.
Just a few years ago, these ANSI cut levels ranged from 0 to 5. But in 2016, ANSI published a new standard that expanded the scale from A0 to A9. The new system offers a more precise range and helps employers make better decisions when selecting gloves for their workplace.
Cut-Resistant Glove Gauges
In addition to cut-resistant glove levels, there are also varying gauges. The glove gauges are the thickness levels.
When it comes to gauges, the higher the number, the thinner the glove. 7, 10, and 13 gauge are the most common uncoated options. Alternatively, 15 and 18 are more commonly coated with a polymer for extra grip and puncture resistance.
For more information about choosing gloves based on ANSI Standard 105 and the various glove gauges, check out our video below.
Choosing Cut-Resistant Gloves for Your Workplace
Now that you know more about the styles and options of cut-resistant safety gloves, it’s time to make some decisions about which ones to provide at your workplace.
Of course, cost can always be a factor when purchasing any kind of PPE. But keep in mind that the cheapest pair of gloves may actually cost you more money in the long run. They’re likely not as durable and so would need to be replaced more often. And the lower levels of protection might result in painful and expensive injuries.
Instead of basing your decision on cost alone, make sure you understand other important aspects to determine which gloves best meet your needs.
Conduct a hazard assessment to identify the unique hazards of your workplace. Determine if dexterity is important or whether or not oily environments will play a factor.
Also, ask yourself the following questions:
- What objects are being held, or worked on?
- What other hazards do you need protection from — are heat/cold, visibility, vibration, or other hazards present too?
And finally, get some input from your employees. Involve them in the testing and selection of gloves. They will be more likely to use their PPE if they’ve helped choose the items they are required to wear. Do this by ordering samples or by trying out a few different styles before committing to just one or two types of gloves.
We understand that finding the right gloves for your crew is time-consuming and sometimes confusing. Our team will make it easy… call your local ABX rep today for assistance with selecting the right gloves for your workplace.