Q&A - Hand protection

April 1, 2004
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QUESTION:

What advances in glove comfort and durability should buyers be on the lookout for?

ANSWERS:

There have been tremendous advances in product design combined with the integration of high-tech materials which provide more comfort, dexterity, durability and task specific protection.

What was once a category built around leather palms, jerseys and string knits, this new generation of gloves will continue to grow the sales of the entire category.

Karen Jagers, Director of Marketing, West Chester


With the wide array of the formulations that are now available in synthetic coatings, glove durability and comfort has reached a new level. Flat-dipped nitrile and polyurethane coatings are now applied to lighter and more ergonomically designed knitted glove shells. They provide resistance to cuts, abrasion resistance, wet grip, dry grip, or any combination of these benefits and still provide a superior level of comfort, dexterity and durability that was not possible, even five years ago. Fit, form and function is the key to greater productivity.

Michael F. Lopez, Marketing Manager, Protective Industrial Products, Inc.


Anti-vibration gloves designed specifically for hot or cold weather use are new introductions. The international standard recently confirmed by ANSI for vibration reducing gloves is an important step, because now there is a real way for buyers to be certain the gloves they buy actually do reduce the dangerous frequencies that cause Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome diseases.

I don’t know if that means ANSI compliant gloves are necessarily more comfortable, but I suppose the knowledge that you’ll still have feeling in your fingers when you retire is a comforting thought.

Lisa Pickens, Chase Ergonomics, Inc.


Liquid-proof gloves by nature do not allow perspiration to permeate through the glove. This can cause discomfort. The solution was to replace unlined gloves with cotton lined or flocked lined to absorb perspiration, hence limiting the effect of perspiration.

New developments in design have produced gloves that conform to the natural shape of the hand. These gloves feature hand-specific articulated curved fingers, thumb inside the hand and tapered wrist, providing optimum dexterity and reduced hand fatigue.

Carmen Castro, Marketing Manager, MAPA Professional


Buyers should look for gloves that are made from new or improved materials and processes. For example, more general purpose and cut resistant string-knit gloves are available on the market today. These are typically more comfortable than the cut and sewn type of gloves.

Also, liquid-proof and disposable gloves are being made from various synthetic polymers that are as comfortable as natural rubber gloves but do not contain latex proteins that may cause allergic reactions.

For durability, gloves are now being made from more high performance fabrics and coated with polymers that provide more grip, protection and wear.

Lisa Rizzo, Product Manager, Industrial Hand Protection, North Safety Products


Advances in more comfortable and durable materials plus new manufacturing techniques are creating safer, better fitting styles of hand protection. Many of these styles will enhance the ability of workers to perform their duties. More “user friendly” best describes many of today’s newer choices for hand protection.

OSHA reports as many as 70 percent of hand protection injuries occurred to people not wearing any protection. Today’s newer styles will encourage the user to wear proper protection at all times. Most manufacturers advertise in industry periodicals and local safety distributors are always sources to seek when you are on the lookout for the latest advances in greater comfort and more durable hand protection.

Larry Garner, President, MCR Safety


Buyers in today’s market will find an increasing array of flexible and thinner gloves that are much more comfortable. Beware, however, some gloves with a lighter and more flexible coating may not offer as much protection as the gloves with more polymer coating.

Make sure that the gloves are coated with polymer in all areas where protection is needed. Less coating does make a more comfortable glove, but also provides less protection and causes gloves to wear out sooner.

Also, remember that when dealing with chemicals, only gauntlet, fully-coated gloves are considered “chemical-resistant gloves.”

Tom Eggleston, Director of Marketing and Sales, Best Manufacturing Co.


Leading glove suppliers are making tremendous advances in thin-film nitrile glove technologies and producing nitrile gloves that are far superior to the conventional nitrile glove. These new nitrile gloves are termed new generation nitrile gloves. Only new generation nitrile gloves have significantly reduced modulus values that result in a nitrile glove that approaches the comfort, fit, and feel previously only found with gloves made from natural rubber latex.

The reduced modulus values for these new generation nitrile gloves is significant because it means that nitrile gloves can now be worn for extended periods without the wearer experiencing the uncomfortable and often painful effects of hand fatigue.

Tito Aldape, Vice President of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, Microflex Corporation


In searching for hand protection from anthrax and other diseases that might be spread by terrorists, keep in mind that these agents present inhalation hazards as well as cutaneous hazards. No glove can provide complete protection against them. But gloves can be useful to protect against cutaneous exposure to infectious diseases.

Several disposable glove styles have been approved for medical applications under the regulations of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, using a 510(k) application. Gloves can also be approved by the National Fire Protection Association for firefighters’ emergency medical applications under their standard, NFPA 1999. These styles should also be suitable for biosafety applications in other areas.

Both the FDA and the NFPA require special qualification testing and production quality programs to achieve and maintain these approvals.

Sturdier styles than traditional medical gloves may be needed to meet future terrorist threats. The European Community has taken a different approach to biosafety; their experts have observed that solvent molecules are much smaller than any bacterium or spore, so gloves that protect against solvents must also be able to protect against micro-organisms.

Ansell Protective Products


Seamless designs offer a more comfortable fit, and they end up lasting longer because there are no seams to fail and the fit helps durability. The trend in seamless knits has been lighter designs made with more durable or protective fibers and thin polymer coatings that offer the same or even greater protection against abrasions, lacerations and light punctures than heavier gloves of the past.

Additionally, jobs that have required heavier protection in the past are being engineered out of the process and in turn these lighter, more flexible, yet highly protective products are in heavier demand.

Matt Reid, Product Manager, Perfect Fit Gloves, Bacou-Dalloz

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