We covered the key considerations for winter work gloves in a previous blog, outlining why it is important to opt for PPE that will keep your hands warm in cold weather.
This blog will take a more general view, looking at the factors that should be considered across all work gloves. We will cover the different types of protection that need to be considered at the specification stage, ensuring that operators are suitably protected in the environments they are working in.
A cut above
One of the primary purposes of PPE gloves is to provide hand protection. This can be in relation to a variety of different hazards, from temperature through to chemicals. However, given its relevance across virtually all industries, cut-resistance is one of the most important factors in selecting work gloves.
For anyone that works with metal, glass, masonry, tools, mechanical equipment or anything else that involves handling sharp edges, high quality cut resistant gloves can prove invaluable. The key challenge is finding the right level of cut resistance, because while it is tempting to immediately opt for the highest level of protection, dexterity plays an important role in finding the best work glove.
This is because if operators don’t feel capable of completing tasks with the gloves on, they are likely to take them off. Not only does this have a negative effect on productivity, but it can also place workers in extremely dangerous situations. Afterall, as the name suggests, workwear gloves are intended to be worn during work, and removing them as a result of low dexterity defeats their entire purpose.
To provide a more accurate indication of the level of cut resistance gloves can provide, the EN388 standard was updated in 2016 to offer more consistent testing. Understanding how to interpret the new standard is crucial to correctly specifying gloves, and a useful guide can be found here. The key takeaway at this stage is to realise that protective equipment has to be practical as well as safe, which makes the latest technology a vital component of employee safety.
Nitrile work gloves are great examples of hand protection that is both dexterous and protective. It also boosts comfort for the wearer, as we’ll discuss later on, and it is possible for heavy duty work gloves such as the Pawā PG530 to offer both cut resistance and dexterity.
Get a grip
As we’ve outlined above, safety gloves are pointless if they don’t allow you to get the job done. For many industries, this means providing operators with grip in environments that are subject to liquids and slippery substances. Oil, water, and other lubricants can make fiddly applications difficult, and if an employee is likely to come into contact with these materials, they should ensure they specify work gloves with grip.
Gripper gloves are often combined with other features, such as cut resistance or thermal properties, to equip wearers with all the protection they need. Pawā’s range of high grip gloves include a number of different products, from the cold resistant PG400 through to the oil resistant PG202. Across the range, PawāGrip uses advanced foam or textured finishes to cope with demanding work environments, and provide wearers with the grip they need.
Water off a duck’s hands
Another factor that hand protection gloves need to address is water resistance. This can be linked with a number of considerations, from comfort through to grip strength. Ensuring that water doesn’t penetrate the glove is critical, especially in environments that necessitate extended periods of outdoor work.
We covered in our previous blog how important this is in keeping the wearer warm, as we all know how uncomfortable soaking wet garments are – especially when they have to be worn for extended periods. Pawā has two water-resistant gloves – the PG241 and the PG201. Alongside providing other types of protection, these place water-repellence at the heart of their design.
Handle the heat
As we’ve touched upon a few times, equipping operators with the means to work in the cold can be crucial, especially for jobs that require outside work throughout the winter months. It is also relevant to those working in the cold-chain industry, who are required to undertake complex, often fiddly tasks in consistently cold conditions.
Equally, there are applications that put workers in situations where they are subject to very high temperatures, and workwear gloves should be specified accordingly.
Heat protection is particularly important in engineering and manufacturing applications, and Pawā’s PG520 is a great example of a heavy duty work glove that can protect wearers from a multitude of threats. Resistance against multiple factors is something that is consistent across the Pawā range, and as we’ll cover later, versatility is critical element of all the best work gloves.
We have referred to comfort time and again throughout this blog. The reason for this is simple: PPE must be worn for extended periods of time, and if there is any level of discomfort or apathy from the wearer, it simply won’t be as effective as it should be.
High quality hand protection will minimise hand fatigue, allowing operators to continue working for substantial periods of time. Thin work gloves are ideal for this, as they increase dexterity and enable the wearer to complete fiddly tasks, without placing too much strain on themselves. Those tasked with buying protective gloves must aim to strike a balance between comfort and protection.
For lighter applications, operators may wish to turn to ultra-breathable work gloves. While not providing as much protection as some of the other gloves we have previously mentioned, they are ideal for applications such as small parts handling and warehouse activities. Pawā’s range of breathable work gloves utilize Coolmax® fabric technology, to ensure hands remain cool and dry, while simultaneously improving performance.
We’ve already alluded to this, but it is important to stress that the best work gloves offer protection against multiple dangers e.g. thermal and cut resistance. It is rare that an operator will be undertaking a task with only one specific risk, which is why providing workwear gloves that have several resistances is so important.
While it may be tempting to purchase multiple, cheaper gloves that each offer protection against a single factor, this can backfire – both financially and in terms of safety. This is because whenever an operator removes hand protection to change to another pair, they are exposing themselves to risk. They may also have to leave the work area to do so, impacting on productivity and increasing their workload.
Cheaper gloves will not last as long, requiring them to be purchased at a more frequent rate. When it comes to hand protection, versatility is a massive benefit.
There are an infinite number of applications that require hand protection, and a dizzying array of work gloves to address this. From site work gloves through to cold-chain protection, the key is to look at the specific application that operators will be working in.
Whether you want a single trial pair or to buy work gloves in bulk, you should open a dialogue with manufacturers and suppliers, to ensure you find the right pair of work gloves for you.