In the hand protection marketplace there are many concerns on how confusing the different standard ratings are (CE and ANSI) as well as how they are misused and mis-communicated to the end users. There is a need for leadership from the hand protection industry on this issue. As a result, the International Glove Association (IGA) has staked out a leadership role on setting performance standards for attributes of hand protection and certifying available products to the established standards.

According to IGA President Bill Trainer, who is also president of Wells Lamont Industry Group, the IGA Board had many discussions on issues surrounding the lack of a North American testing and certification protocol for hand protection.

“Our concern was for how end users were confused on how the different standard ratings worked and what they really meant,” said Trainer. “We felt North America needed a system to clearly provide comparable data on the performance level of hand protection products. The IGA believes we are the most knowledgeable organization to address these kinds of glove issues.”

The certification program has been in the works for a year now, according to Trainer. The program was developed by a technical committee composed of David Brown, Pharr Yarns; Martin Shamis, Kimberly Clark; Kim O’Leary, Wells Lamont Industry Group; and Elizabeth Parrish, Honeywell Specialty Materials. The program is launching now, according to Trainer.

Certification detailsThe Certification Program covers: 1) Attributes for certification; 2) Test protocols to measure targeted attributes; and 3) Performance grading system.

The f irst product group to be part of the program is cut-resistant gloves. Attributes for certification include:

  • Cut resistance; .
  • Abrasion resistance; .
  • Puncture resistance; .

Minimum testing for certification will involve cut and abrasion protocols. Puncture testing is optional.

Cut testThe cut test will be performed to ASTM F1790-05, using the TDM tester rationale. TDM is included in the test protocol for three test groups because:

  • Fewer performance issues with this tester; .
  • The 2005 version of F1790 gives consistently lower cut values (with the CPP tester) than the 1997 version of the same standard; .
  • The average bias is 200g; .
  • In the ASTM round robin testing, there was not an overall bias between the CPP 1997 version and the TDM 2005; and.
  • The ASTM committee continues to review sources of variation to make improvements.
  • The IGA Performance Grading System for cut-resistance, as determined by the ASTMF1790-05 standard will consist of seven levels of performance. .

Abrasion testThe abrasion test will be performed to ASTM D4966, using the Martindale Abrasion Tester Rationale. This test was chosen because:

  • The method covers textile fabrics for all fabrics (knit, wovens, non-wovens); .
  • It’s easy to perform testing; .
  • Many glove manufactures already use this tester in internal labs or third-party testing facilities; .
  • Test result outcome is consistent; and an international standard is in place. .
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    The abrasion test ASTM D4966 – 9 kpa will use an IGA Performance Grading System with five levels of performance.

    Puncture test The optional puncture test will use the ISO 13996 standard with a vertical tensile test machine. The r ationale: an international standard is in place, and the IGA Grading System will consist of four levels of performance.

    Program roll out According to Bill Trainer, glove purchasers and users will begin to see certified, cut-resistant gloves on the market in four to six weeks.

    How much will certification cost glove manufacturers? Trainer says IGA is tentatively targets certification pricing at $450 for the Cut and Abrasion Test, and $275 for the o ptional puncture test.

    Will certification increase the cost of gloves to end-users. “We don't think so,” said Trainer. “The cost is very reasonable and small when compared to the size of the glove market ($4.5 billion in the U.S.).”

    Here’s how the IGA certification process will work:

    • Requester (glove manufacturer) sends gloves to IGA with payment; .
    • Requester specifies certification options; .
    • IGA submits to approved testing facility (two independent testing facilities are currently working with IGA); .
    • The testing facility returns testing documents to IGA; .
    • IGA prepares certification document with product labels and submits to requester; .
    • Requester returns signed release to IGA to publish results; and .
    • Regular audits of tested products will be completed by the IGA.

    Certification label Products certified by the IGA will be issued a certification letter listing the registration number, product details, the certification test results and associated certification level. The IGA will also provide a product certification label that identifies the IGA logo, product registration number and associated certification level.

    How will end-users know that the certification process doesn’t amount to the glove industry policing itself?

    “The performance testing is being independently performed to ASTM standards by a third party,” said Trainer. “The IGA will simply communicate the facts and monitor for consistency. It is in the best interest of the glove industry and the users we serve to provide simple, clear and unbiased information to help their decision-making.”

    IGA has a variety of plans to publicize the new testing and certification program. A certification pamphlet will outline standards. An overview of the program will be posted on IGA’s website. IGA-certified products, with performance level, will be posted on the website for end-user reference. An E-marketing newsletter will go out to members, an E-marketing newsletter will be sent to non-member glove manufacturers to encourage participation, and a postcard mailer will be developed for all IGA members.