Within industries there are multiple hazards that require multiple types of hand protection. That’s one of the key findings of the 2017 PPE Hand Protection CLEAReport from Clear Seas Research, which took a deep dive into the factors that influence hand protection purchasing decisions. Among the results are surprises: plenty of purchases are still being made in-person rather than online, and the top purchasing influencer is word of mouth.

Choosing gloves is serious business. Those charged with safeguarding employees’ hands must take into account the possibility of cuts, lacerations and punctures; thermal/chemical burns; severe skin irritation; crushing; handling of sensitive electronics and contagions and disease hazards.

Constant use

Hand PPE is one of the more ubiquitous types of safety apparel; some 89 percent of respondents reported daily or weekly use of it for themselves or their employees. Warehouse gloves are the most commonly used, followed by specialty treated, chemical-resistant, cut-resistant, latex/silicone, heat-resistant and vinyl/poly gloves. Different industries showed preferences for different types of gloves. For instance, silicone/latex and poly/vinyl gloves are more widely used in food manufacturing than in other industries. 

What are the top factors that come into play when selecting hand PPE? 

The level of protection provided is uppermost in the minds of decision-makers, followed by quality, comfort/fit, durability, availability, ease of use, price, tactile sensitivity, compatibility with other PPE, specialty fiber and design/style.

One-stop shopping preferred

As for brands, ease of acquisition is vital to professionals. They prefer a one-stop shop where they’ll get assistance with OSHA compliance from suppliers who are knowledgeable about their workplace. They also want just-in-time delivery and good customer service. Interestingly, technical support and training are deemed less important, although they were cited by some, along with maintenance or repair.

OSHA hand protection standards play a big role in purchasing decisions, with 77 percent of respondents OSHA regs as being “very or extremely helpful” to their job and 62 percent of respondents saying they have a “solid understanding” of the regs. 

Shaping buying decisions

Sources of information are fairly broad, with no real “go to,” although peers are significantly more likely to be influential than any other source. Word of mouth was cited as the primary influencer (48 percent), followed by manufacturer brochures (39 percent), manufacturer websites (39 percent), trade magazines (37 percent) and general advertising (30 percent).

Purchasing sources

Purchasing is evenly split between in-person and online, and while the world’s largest online retailer – Amazon.com – has made inroads into the hand safety market, it still ranks below general industrial supply/distributors and safety distributors (regional and local), but above manufacturer websites, retail outlets and industry specific distributors.

The top locations for in-person sales are retail outlets. Next come general industrial supply/distributors, safety distributors (regional and local), catalogs, and finally, industry specific distributors.

In terms of ISHN subscribers, significantly more are involved in purchasing or recommending gloves, and more wear gloves daily than non-subscribers. Fewer of them are in construction and food products industries than non-subscribers, while more are in mining and utilities than non-subscribers.

For more information on Clear Seas Research designed for actionable results, recommendations, and superior decision-making, contact Tracy Bristow at 919.519.7161; bristowt@clearseasresearch.com; or Beth Surowiec at 248.786.1519; suroweicb@clearseasresearch.com