Trends in ... hand protection
‘Not all hand protection is created equal’
What’s the latest in hand protection? Here’s what some experts in the industry have to say about cut resistance, choosing the right protection for workers and more.
Safety+Health: Any recent innovations in the field of hand protection?
Tanner Brehmer, product development manager, Global Glove & Safety Mfg.: Many PPE suppliers are producing “enhancement-free” cut-resistant fibers that cover all cut levels up to ANSI Cut Level A4+. This is a significant game-changer, as manufacturers typically are adding steel or fiberglass to their fibers – high-performance polyethylene, ultrahigh molecular weight polyethylene, aramid, etc. – to achieve cut levels above ANSI Cut Level A2. Enhancement-free fibers typically feel silky smooth and cooler on the skin.
Jeff Cohen, QSSP, director of product management for hand and arm protection, Protective Industrial Products: The American National Standard for Performance and Classification for Impact-Resistant Gloves really set the stage for a variety of innovations in the area of impact gloves. In response, we’ve seen a multitude of impact gloves that are created from different materials – from thicker leather to lighter-coated seamless knits – with added features, including cut and chemical protection.
Corenne Taylor, content marketing specialist, Superior Glove: The most significant innovation in recent history has been the introduction of the very first standard for measuring impact protection in the North American market – ANSI/ISEA 138-2019. This standard enables end users to make educated choices when choosing impact-resistant gloves by assigning gloves a rating from 1 to 3 based on the level of impact protection provided. As the first standard for impact resistance, it highlighted a market dearth in high-level impact protection, as very few gloves could achieve the highest rating.
S+H: What do you wish workers better understood about hand protection?
Griff Hughes, president, Banom: Most end-use customers comment that their suppliers don’t know very much about hand protection. This may be because most suppliers are importers, not manufacturers, so their purchasing decisions are more based on cost rather than features and benefits or the very basic question: How does this product work? Zach Richman, senior product manager, Milwaukee Tool: When choosing hand protection, users need to make their decisions based on application. Multiple factors and jobsite requirements go into making this decision, including cut resistance, impact resistance, dexterity and more. For example, users working with sharper materials, such as sheet metal, would need a glove with a higher cut rating.
S+H: What concerns are customers coming to you with about hand protection?
Taylor: Before the COVID-19 pandemic, which switched the conversation to disposables, many customers were concerned with needlestick protection in their gloves. For employers looking to protect their employees against needlestick injuries, it is advisable to select several different pairs of puncture-resistant gloves and have staff try them to determine which works best.
Brehmer: Importing private-label products directly from vendors overseas. A lot of times the distributor does not have a long-term relationship, and the end result could be receiving product that does not meet the intended protection claim.
Richman: As standards evolve, customers often question which solution to use. For example:
- What are the differences among the cut levels? Cut resistance is measured on a scale from 1 to 9. The higher the rating, the more cut resistant the glove.
- What are the different glove coating materials? Nitrile offers excellent puncture/tear resistance and provides a better grip in oily and wet conditions. Polyurethane offers superior dexterity without the “sticky” feel and a lighter weight, more breathable design.
S+H: What’s on the horizon for hand protection?
Taylor: The future of hand protection will most likely involve smart PPE that can help workers avoid accidents before they happen. For instance, gloves that change color around certain chemicals can let employees know immediately if their gloves offer adequate protection. Cohen: Further advancements in TPR and impact protection, because this is still a relatively new area for the industry. As you might expect, new antimicrobial yarn technologies that focus on improved comfort and protection also are a topic everyone is focusing on.