A Guide To The Best Gloves For Metalworking

The latest in our blog series on different types of hand protection focuses on metal working gloves. As ever, we will outline the types of hazards that those working in metal fabrication will need to be protected against, and why it’s always important to approach PPE on a case-by-case basis.

Metal fabrication

There are a number of different industries which involve metal work, but for the purposes of this blog we are going to concentrate on sheet metal processing. It refers to the manufacture of any products, components and parts made of metal, and can include welding, cutting, bending, punching, forming, rolling and joining.

Working with metal inevitably brings operators into contact with sharp edges, which means an elevated risk of cuts and punctures. This makes it crucial that high-performing gloves for sheet metal work are specified and supplied accordingly, and to do this, there needs to be an understanding of what defines high cut and puncture resistance.

Using the latest standard

It’s something we have touched upon before, but those tasked with specifying PPE should familiarise themselves with the latest cut resistance standards. Changes have been implemented to alter the way that gloves are tested, in order to provide a more ‘real world’ indication of how much protection is offered.

The change was made because the traditional coupe test was proving inaccurate, as the gloves being tested were starting to blunt the circular saw, and therefore affect results. A new TDM-100 test was brought in, which measured the amount of force required for a new, straight blade to cut through glove liner material at a constant speed of 2.5mm/s over a distance of 20mm.

This is a more accurate simulation of the type of hazards that sheet metal operators are likely to encounter, and is represented in classifications by a letter (A being the lowest protection, F being the highest). This means the protection previously offered by level 5 cut resistance can now be offered by those classified as D-F, which offers more flexibility in terms of managing other types of hazards (more on that later).

Finding the best gloves for metal fabrication

Using this standard to identify high protection PPE is the most effective way to ensure operators are provided with the best gloves for sheet metal work. Gloves such as Pawā’s PG550, which has EN ISO Cut Level F protection, are perfectly suited to heavy duty steel and metal fabrication work.

Its multi-fibre lining means that it is one of the best cut resistant gloves for sheet metal work available. Plus, because it benefits from such a high-quality finish, it is durable enough to keep offering protection for a sustained period of time. This reduces how often it has to be replaced due to wear and tear, which ultimately prolongs the glove’s lifespan.

Getting comfortable

Given the dangers associated with metal work, it is critical that operators wear protective gloves at all times. This means that alongside offering the highest level of cut protection, they must also be as comfortable as possible. The anti-cut yarn technology in both the Pawā PG530 and PG550 is designed to offer high levels of comfort to sit alongside strong protection.

Dexterity is an equally important factor when it comes to the best gloves for metalwork. As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, hand fatigue is a significant challenge for anyone required to wear protective gloves for sustained periods of time. As hands start to tire as a result of overly-rigid gloves, the wearer’s health and comfort will suffer, and mistakes will become more likely.

This is where those tasked with specifying metal fabrication gloves must think carefully about the degree of protection required. Some gloves, such as Pawā’s PG330, utilise an innovative knitting technology to offer significant sensitivity and movement for the wearer. However, it only offers cut level B protection, so there needs to be a detailed look at the specific application in which the gloves will be used.

Heat resistance

Taking this kind of case-by-case approach will enable a more thorough assessment of what type of protection operators require. For example, high temperatures are a common hazard in the metal fabrication industry, which means that the best gloves for metal work will often need to provide some form of heat protection.

The Pawā’ PG520 gloves incorporate Kevlar technology to provide EN 407:2004 level 2 protection against intermittent heat contact (up to 250°C). Combined with high protection against cut hazards (level E), this makes the PG520 the perfect safety gloves for metal fabrication work, especially in applications where high temperatures are commonplace.

Welding

An application that is often associated with metal work is welding, which requires a unique form of hand protection. The extremely high heat that welders are subjected to means hand protection must be designed with this specifically in mind. The soon to be launched Pawā’ PG863 and PG860 Tig Welderboth benefit from high resistance to flammability and small splashes of molten metal, protecting wearers that are undertaking various welding tasks. As always, comfort is integral to productivity, and these two products are produced using the finest quality grain and split leather.

Oil resistance

Another important consideration when specifying gloves for working with metal is whether operators are likely to encounter any liquids. For metal fabrication tasks that involve close work with industrial fluids, such as oils, lubricants and coolants, as well as potentially hazardous solvents used for parts washing, it is critical that hands are protected against the damaging effects these liquids can have on the skin.

If the need for cut resistance is relatively low, the Pawā’ PG202 features oil repellent technology to keep hands protected against fluids. Alternatively, for a glove that offers cut and oil protection, operators should opt for the PG510.

Final thoughts

We’ve covered the main factors to consider when looking for metal working gloves, with cut resistance being the most critical to providing optimum protection. Adopting an application-specific approach to the specification of PPE will ensure that operators are protected as best as possible in the metal fabrication industry.

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