If the Glove Fits:
What’s Your Type?
Chemical- and liquid-resistant gloves protect wearers from substances that penetrate the skin and potentially cause irritation, rashes, and burns. Usually made of neoprene, latex, nitrile, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), or butyl, the glove material should be compatible with the chemical being handled. For more information on compatibility, see box below this article on Safety Glove Chemical Compatibility Database.
Disposable industrial or laboratory gloves limit contamination in cleanroom environments, microchip production, laboratories, and medical facilities. They are worn when handling blood, pathogens, germs, or other potentially hazardous biological samples. Because finger sensitivity and dexterity is important for these applications, these gloves are made of pliable materials such as polyethylene, latex, nitrile, or vinyl. Disposable gloves may also be used in food safety, technology, and preparation applications as well. Typically, these disposable safety gloves carry a label stating they are compliant with FDA regulations for food contact
Electrical safety gloves are generally rubber-insulated to protect electricians who are working with live wires and electrical charges. As an effective nonconductor, rubber offers voltage-resistance according to specified levels. Sometimes electrical workers wear leather gloves on top of the rubber-insulated gloves to further protect against abrasions and cuts.
Temperature-resistant gloves keep skin from experiencing the effects of extreme heat or cold. Those working outdoors in freezing conditions or indoors in freezers, cold storage units, or cryogenics need to protect their hands from frostbite. Welders, firefighters, and other workers toiling around open flames need glove materials that can withstand high levels of heat up to as high as 600ºF (315ºC). Similarly, extreme temperature gloves are knitted with materials that allow users to safely work with diffusion furnaces, hot/dry glassware, and liquid gas flasks.
Cut-resistant gloves safeguard wearers from snags, punctures, abrasions, and cuts and are most often found in industrial settings or animal handling applications. Cut-resistant gloves may be constructed of metal mesh or Kevlar®, perhaps with another material integrated in the fabric or added as coating to enhance the grip.
Leather work gloves crafted of cowhide, goatskin, horsehide, deerskin, or pigskin are often both tough yet pliable for farming and agricultural uses, carpentry, heavy machinery driving, and related applications.
Fingerless gloves for cycling, sailing, and road racing also can be useful in work settings where optimal dexterity is necessary without needing to protect fingers from moving parts, contamination, or other hazards.
Finger cots cover one or more fingers for protection when an entire glove is unnecessary. Made of nitrile, latex, vinyl, or rubber, they are used when handling Class II static-sensitive or ESD-sensitive devices with thresholds above 1000V.
What Style Fits Best?
Take into consideration safety glove features. These style options or characteristics may produce optimal work performance and enhance comfort, which cannot be overlooked when users repeat motions for several hours a day. Characteristics include:
Other options that may be available for specific glove types:
Gloves that extend beyond the wrist also provide cuff options:
Making a Match
Of course, after an employer or worker chooses the right type of glove, with the necessary features to sustain long work hours and performance requirements, the size of the glove also matters. Poorly fitted gloves contribute to hand fatigue and can also leave the worker exposed to the very hazards the glove is designed to protect against.
Two methods can be used to determine an appropriate fit: Measure the hand circumference around the palm area with the fingers together and the hand relaxed. Or, use a hand gauge by placing the hand directly on the gauge and reading the size. For glove length, measure from the tip of the middle finger to where the cuff edge should be on the wrist or arm.
Looking for Compatibility?
Try the Safety Glove Chemical Compatibility Database
Leveraging years of research on chemical compatibility, the Safety Glove Chemical Compatibility Database includes more than 190 chemicals. Once users select a chemical, a chart appears indicating glove material and overall rating for compatibility. Some materials may also include a degradation rating at 30 minutes, permeation breakthrough by minutes, and permeation ratings.
Variability in material thickness, chemical concentration, temperature, and length of exposure to chemicals will also affect the performance of the material with the chemical. Always test gloves first with the specified chemicals to be used. To select the appropriate glove protection, a hazards analysis and risk assessment should be performed, including identification of the chemicals and chemical hazards related to the task and work environment, determination of the potential for exposure and the type of exposure that is expected (i.e. splash, saturation, spray, immersion, etc.), and determination of the consequences related to exposure.
To check the database, go to ColeParmer.com/safetychemguide