When it comes to gloves, it’s tempting to stick with what works and keep using the styles you are accustomed to, especially when it “fits like a glove” as they say. However, the change of seasons could warrant a change in hand protection that is better suited to the weather at hand, particularly for outdoor workers. This article outlines some glove options to consider when working in different temperature and environmental conditions.

When it’s winter

Winter’s cold and often wet weather poses hazards such as hypothermia, frostbite and chilblains. As each winter approaches, it’s a good time to start looking at different glove options to protect workers from these various hazards. With so many varieties, it makes sense to assess your specific needs and select the appropriate type. There’s no need to compromise fit or comfort, and there’s no guesswork involved. Follow these tips to select proper winter gloves:

1. Consider the type of insulation you need: cotton flannel, BOA acrylic, foam fleece, etc.

2. Determine which thickness of insulation will allow you the dexterity you need.

3. Do you need a waterproof lining?

4. Consider the worker level of activity. Activity level directly affects your core temperature and therefore will affect the type of glove you should select. So if it’s -40°C (um, yeah, it gets that cold in some parts of Canada) and your activity level is low, you need some seriously warm gloves. On the other hand, if you’re in milder temperatures (and the envy of everyone else), with moderate to high activity levels, you might want more lightly insulated gloves. Warm, but lighter, gloves won’t cause your hands to sweat or overheat – which can tempt you to remove your work gloves, and this is obviously not a temptation you want to give into.

The right waterproof glove (use the left one too)

When it comes to hand protection, waterproof gloves can be a tricky choice. If you want good waterproof gloves, you need to make sure you choose ones that are well made. In this case especially, quality is key. Good waterproof gloves will combine water-repellent materials with smart styling to ensure wetness stays out. Some gloves will also feature insulating liners to lock in warmth. If you can keep the cold and the wet out, there’s nothing holding you back.

Here are some things to factor in when selecting waterproof work gloves: 

Wish list:

  • water repellency
  • insulation performance
  • agility
  • comfort
  • washability
  • durability

Ideal materials:

  • Neoprene (waterproof and durable, they’ll stand up to almost any cold/wet job ) adjustable cuff to block out water and cold
  • Branded waterproof linings
  • Fleece, branded insulation products, or other insulation (warm lining to keep the cold out)
  • Features to look for:
  • Adjustable or Velcro® wrist to keep wetness and moisture out
  • Tailored sizing for optimal hand mobility
  • Quality materials

Don’t sweat it

In many places, once workers get some relief from the cold weather, it seems like no time before they have to bear the high temperatures and humidity of summer. Just as you wouldn’t wear your winter jacket outside in July, you shouldn’t necessarily keep the same gloves on to work in the summer heat.

But don’t sweat it; you can keep cool when the heat is on while still complying with PPE standards in the workplace.

If you wear cut-resistant sleeves for work (we’re assuming you don’t wear them just for fun), staying cool can really present a challenge. You really don’t have to sweat it out though. Yarn technology has advanced to the point where you can combine true comfort with uncompromised cut protection. Cutban™ sleeves, for example, offer a much cooler alternative to traditionally constructed sleeves. Knit with a high-tenacity filament yarn, you still get ASTM cut-level 2 protection, without the cumbersome heat that some products can impose.

A great feature of today’s cut-resistant sleeves is that you can pick your length, style and thumbhole options, allowing the best possible fit.

Fine-gauge polyester knits are especially lightweight and breathable, wicking moisture away from hands. Even coated styles can offer this breathability. The addition of double-layer, micro-finish grip foam latex palms can provide excellent wet/dry grip without adding uncomfortable warmth.

Beyond your glove selection, make sure to follow other stay-cool tips, as long as they are in accordance with your workplace safety policies. When outdoors, wear a hat to prevent overheating and polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and extreme brightness, which causes fatigue. Use sunscreen. Whether working indoors or outdoors, stay hydrated. Loading up on H20 does wonders for keeping your body cool. Plan your activities wisely, take breaks and know your limits.

Safety in all seasons

Remember, when temperature and weather conditions change, it’s a good time to reevaluate all your workers’ personal protective equipment, including hand protection. Different gloves not only provide better protection for certain environmental conditions, but when workers are not comfortable in their PPE, they are more likely to remove it, placing them at risk for injury. Pick the right gloves for the specific worker, task and environment to keep workers’ hands safe in all seasons.