Fabrics and coatings
Most glove materials offer some level of cut resistance, but finding the right gloves usually requires users to consider other factors, including overall fit. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) performance levels also provide guidance and are derived directly from the Cut Protection Performance Test (CPPT). CPPT provides data to differentiate the cut resistance of common materials by measuring the weight needed to make a standard blade slice through a protective material in a one-inch stroke.
CPPT levels range from Level 1, which includes fabrics such as lightweight cotton and polyester/cotton blends that provide minimal cut protection, to Levels 3, 4 and 5, which include exceptionally protective fabrics such as Kevlar and Dyneema. Depending on the application, construction personnel such as HVAC workers and carpenters may need gloves with a Level 3 or Level 4 rating for high levels of cut protection.
Coatings applied to the outside surface of gloves can also increase cut protection and enhance worker performance by promoting dexterity and protecting hands from oil and other fluids while increasing grip. A natural rubber coating, for example, provides a high level of cut resistance and enhances grip. Nitrile and foam nitrile coatings protect against snag, puncture and abrasion while promoting comfort and chemical resistance and repelling oil. Polyurethane-coated gloves resistant snags and abrasion and promote a good dry and wet grip.
No matter what level of cut resistance the product provides, most glove manufacturers do not recommend using cut-resistant gloves to protect against powered devices such as saws and drills. Most gloves are tested for use with non-powered blades and tools only.
Fully coated nitrile gloves are available that provide excellent chemical protection. New technology includes microscopic channels in a thin nitrile layer that direct fluids away from the grip surface. This leaves a significant dry contact area that enables workers to achieve a secure grip on pipes, tools and other surfaces without exerting excessive force.
The importance of comfort and fit
As far as comfort is concerned, gloves that include liners made of cotton or a cotton/polyester blend, LYCRA or a LYCRA and nylon blend are soft on the hands and will encourage workers to wear their gloves and keep them on longer. Products are available with cool, stretch liners that improve worker fit and productivity.
Knitted products can also enhance worker comfort. Gloves are available that feature variable stitching in high stress areas such as the knuckles for maximum dexterity, flexibility and long term comfort.
Gloves should also fit properly to assure a high level of performance. Hand protection products that are too large, for example, will slide around on the hands and not provide protection where it needed, or they may slide off the hands and leave them exposed. Gloves that are too snug will decrease dexterity and may become uncomfortable enough during the day that workers will remove them.
Employers should keep in mind that women, immigrants and older workers typically have different requirements as they relate to glove shapes and size.
As mentioned above, glove requirements will vary from job site to job site because of the many tasks involved. While recent Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) updates are likely to provide a more consistent approach and guidelines for hand protection within the construction/DIY industry, construction companies should consult with industry experts for assistance in selecting hand protection products for employees working in specific applications.
All recommendations should be taken with caution. Further, these recommendations are based on laboratory tests and are intended as a guide for qualified professionals engaged in assuring safety in the workplace. Because Ansell has no detailed knowledge of or control over the conditions of end use, any recommendation must be advisory only, and Ansell fully disclaims any liability including any warranties (whether express or implied) or guarantees related to any statement contained herein. According to current OSHA regulations, the employer has the final responsibility for selecting gloves and/or other personal protective equipment, and purchasers and users are solely responsible for their selection and use of products.