“Employers shall select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when employees’ hands are exposed to hazards such as those from skin absorption of harmful substances; severe cuts or lacerations; severe abrasions; punctures; chemical burns; thermal burns; and harmful temperature extremes.”

Your probably know this OSHA requirement by heart, right? But what are some of the newest improvements in hand protection that help make your job easier?

John Sujo, Global Product Manager at Honeywell, discussed hand protection innovations in a recent interview for Safety+Health magazine.

Here is what our expert identified to be three key tendencies in the hand protection industry.

1.       New glove materials

Sujo says we’re fortunate enough to witness great advances in knitting technologies. These allow manufacturers to produce gloves that are highly-durable, extremely dexterous and cut resistant, all at the same time.

“New materials and processes have improved coatings and seamless knits, and consequently, protection and wearer comfort”, Sujo says. “When workers are exposed to cut hazards, they want the glove to protect their hand from all injuries that could happen on the job, as well as provide excellent grip and breathability.”

What is more, tech advances together with an increasing consumer awareness for health and hygiene drive the expansion of the impact glove market. Back-of-hand and impact-resistant gloves are growing in popularity, aided by the development of new quality standards.

2.       New hand protection standards

The past decade has seen a massive influx of new products, making product selection quite difficult. To help safety managers evaluate the performance of gloves faster and more efficiently, standards for safety testing are being revisited and updated to suit the increasing demand for higher-quality safety gloves.

EN 388 addresses levels of abrasion, tear and puncture and was updated in 2016, to include impact assessment “improved test method to evaluate cut resistance”.

In the US, the International Safety Equipment Association (ISEA) has developed ANSI/ISEA 138, an American national standard for performance and classification for impact resistant hand protection.

ANSI/ISEA 138 has standardized the method for testing impact-resistant gloves. It guides manufacturers when it comes to testing equipment, from requirements to how to run the tests.  And it includes the knuckle, finger and thumb in the testing, while the EN 388 standard covers just the knuckles.

Under ANSI/ISEA 138 a typical impact-glove test implies dropping a falling mass (drop striker) on the knuckles and fingers and recording the transmitted force in kilo newtons. This is repeated 8 times for the knuckles and ten times for the fingers.

A stricter requirement for testing increases the credibility of glove performance claims.

3.       Application-specific gloves

There are applications that need lightweight cut resistance, premier grip and sense of touch. But quite often, safety managers risk trading dexterity and comfort for heavier gloves.

“Overprotection is a real issue and managers should be informed on the different cut levels and grip options available”, Sujo says. “Despite popular belief, increasing cut protection to an ANSI level 9 can compromise safety in an unexpected way, as workers may experience losing grip and their ability to handle objects”.

Comfort, never outdated

Engineered yarns have significantly improved wearer comfort, an essential feature that impacts workers’ decision to wear or not to wear gloves.

“The most important feature a worker looks for in a glove is the ability of the glove to allow him or her to perform the job with the same ease as if he or she were doing the task with bare hands”, Sujo says. “With bare hands, there is no limitation on dexterity or worry about sweating.”

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