Construction Safety Work Gloves: What to Consider Before You Buy

Construction Safety Work Gloves: What to Consider Before You Buy
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Construction Safety Work Gloves: What to Consider Before You Buy

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Companies tell us all the time that they are constantly reminding their guys to wear eye protection, earplugs, or hard hats. We don't often hear the same thing about safety work gloves. For the most part, crew members are pretty good about wearing hand protection, but only when it's not a hassle.
And that’s the issue. Sometimes companies outfit their crew with gloves that are too bulky, don't have the right features, are too thin, don't provide the right protection, and workers have to keep taking them on and off to get through the day. Eventually, they just stop putting them on altogether. So, a crew of workers that were once fine with wearing hand protection are now avoiding it.
This is an easy problem to avoid. Just get the gloves that are right for the job. When picking safety gloves, you need to consider what needs should be met, what options are available, and what factors are involved.
Let’s break this down.

4 Reasons You Need to Wear Safety Gloves

There can be any combination of reasons your workers need work gloves, and not all of the one's on our list will apply to your situation. Assess the hazards your crew faces, make a list, and when shopping for gloves, make sure your options check the right boxes. Here are four examples.

Protection

We're starting with the obvious one here. When you add a thick layer of fabric or any other material over your hands in the form of a good pair of work gloves, you protect them in many ways. Gloves can protect your hands from hazards, from electric shocks to strong chemicals. They also let you touch, push and pull hot objects without experiencing a burn.
The correct safety work gloves also protect the wearer's hands from cuts and lacerations when handling sharp and dangerous objects found in construction or industrial applications. Safety work gloves are available with padding on the back to minimize the impact of objects falling on your hands.

Improved Grip

Most of the top-quality safety work gloves also provide added grip to your fingers and palms for holding and moving heavy and slippery objects.
There are many different ways that a manufacturer can create a grip work glove. One of the most popular is palm coating. Palm coating comes in various options, from economical polyurethane to sophisticated foam nitrile coated. Each coating is good for different applications. Apart from the coating material, palm-coated gloves can be textured from a smooth palm grip to a crinkle grip to give you extra grabbing power in wet conditions.

Workplace Compliance

In many cases, wearing safety gloves is part of workplace compliance. Not wearing them can lead to penalties for workers as well as employers.

Temperature Insulation

A top-of-the-line pair of gloves provide temperature insulation that comes useful while working in extreme weather conditions. In winter, they protect your hands from frostbite and other cold-weather hazards. There are also gloves available that protect the wearer's hands against hot objects. Welders and foundry workers use these.

Top Materials for Safety Work Gloves

Materials matter. Using the wrong material glove for a job can be very dangerous. The idea that you’ll be okay as long as something is covering your hands will lead you down a road of complicated problems.
This doesn't just apply to gloves. Fire-resistant PPE is a good example. Let's say a worker gets caught in a spray of sparks. Without fire-resistant PPE, the worker could get burned by sparks, and the worker's clothing and anything else they are wearing could ignite, and the worker could then experience even more severe burns from the burning clothes.
With fire-resistant PPE, the worker could still be burned by the initial sparks, but would probably avoid the more severe burns caused by ignited clothes or gear.
That's the thought process you need to bring to your glove buying decision. Will the material these gloves are made of suppressor fuel our worksite hazards?

Leather

Leather has been in use for making safety work gloves for hundreds of years. The most popular leather work gloves are cowhide, goatskin, and pigskin, while deerskin is used to make premium gloves. Leather offers excellent abrasion resistance but makes it safe to handle rough objects. Leather’s natural heat-resistant qualities make it a great option to protect against sparks and hot chips of metal. We should mention that leather is a natural material and is available in different grades and qualities, and more economical leather gloves may contain flaws.

Rubber

Rubber gloves need to be regularly inspected to detect peeling, cuts, or cracks that would compromise their effectiveness. Flock-lined or dipped rubber gloves are waterproof and have excellent flexibility and dexterity. These gloves are often specialized and created for specific chemical handling and electrical protection tasks.

Latex

When you think of latex gloves, the first thing that comes to mind is probably disposable medical gloves. For a long time, almost all disposable gloves were made of latex. Most disposable latex gloves offer some level of chemical resistance, they have great elasticity that hugs your hand, and they offer great dexterity. The big issue with latex gloves is that a lot of people have latex allergies and can’t use them.
If you're a fan of latex gloves or specifically need latex, you can also find regular work gloves made of latex or palm dipped in latex. These gloves offer the same benefits as disposable latex but in a more durable, reusable form.

Nitrile

As latex allergies became more of an issue, glove manufacturers turned to nitrile. Now, most disposable gloves you'll find are made of nitrile instead of latex. Nitrile generally offers better chemical resistance, and apples-to-apples are more durable. Nitrile gloves offer plenty of elasticity, but they don’t hug your hand as tightly as disposable latex gloves.
Nitrile palm-dipped gloves are also quickly growing in popularity over PU palm-dipped gloves. You can get nitrile palm gloves in all of the same finishes as PU (foam, sandy, patterned, etc.). Nitrile gloves are excellent at handling wet and oily surfaces and perform better at higher temperatures compared to PU gloves. Neither option are considered heat resistant.

PU

Polyurethane (PU) palm-dipped gloves are the most popular option for palm coating material. It's durable, breathable, dexterous, and cost-effective. For a general pair of work gloves, PU-coated gloves are tough to beat. Most workers like how comfortable the gloves are and how easy they are to work in. Regular cloth or canvas work gloves are bulky and make it difficult to perform a task that requires dexterity. Most palm-dipped gloves hug your hand and allow you to perform tasks that you would normally do bare-handed.

PVC

Disposable PVC gloves are another latex alternative. They aren't as popular as nitrile disposable because they are more purpose-built. PVC disposable gloves don't have as comfortable of a fit, and they have trouble performing fine tasks, but they have really good chemical resistance. Plumbers, cleaners, janitorial workers, and anyone that needs to handle harsh chemicals would benefit from PVC gloves.
PVC gloves can be found as regular work gloves as well. Again, these gloves are designed for special purposes and will likely be cumbersome if used as an everyday pair of gloves. Our PVC chip glove is a good example. It's a heavy, dense, triple-dipped glove with course chips embedded. It would be difficult to pick up a nail off the ground with these gloves, but they are great at gripping and pulling a wet line or cord.

Canvas

If you are looking for a simple, cost-effective work glove option, canvas might be good for you. Simple canvas gloves are often available in bulk quantities and are good general-use gloves. Sometimes canvas gloves are used as a liner or the base of more specialty gloves. You can find canvas gloves with leather palms, which significantly reduces the total cost of the glove.

Top Factors to Consider for Buying the Best Safety Work Gloves

Besides the right size selection, these are some factors you need to consider when choosing the best safety work gloves.

Price

Okay, let's cut right to it. You're worried about the price. Everything we've talked about sounds expensive. Depending on the hazards you are facing, hand protection can become expensive, but it almost always costs less in the long run. An excerpt about wealth from Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett applies here;
"Take boots, for example. He earned $38 a month plus allowances. A really good pair of leather boots cost $50. But an affordable pair of boots, which were sort of okay for a season or two and then leaked like hell when the cardboard gave out, cost about $10.
Those were the kind of boots Vimes always bought, and wore until the soles were so thin that he could tell where he was in Ankh-Morpork on a foggy night by the feel of the cobbles.
But the thing was that good boots lasted for years and years. A man who could afford $50 had a pair of boots that'd still be keeping his feet dry in 10 years' time, while the poor man who could only afford cheap boots would have spent a hundred dollars on boots in the same time and would still have wet feet."
This is the whole idea behind what we are trying to say in this article. Making an informed decision now and investing in it will yield safer and more cost-effective results.

Palm Coating 

Many palm coatings are available, from economical polyurethane to sophisticated foam nitrile. Each coating is good for different applications. Some work gloves come with padded palm grips to protect against vibrating machinery and physical knocks.

Glove Lining

If you are picking work gloves for a worksite where the temperature usually remains high, you should go with gloves made of breathable material, this will help keep your hands cool. If you are working in winter condition, make sure you purchase thermal lined gloves, to help prevent frostbite.

Dexterity

If your work involves a lot of palm and finger movement, you should opt for gloves that are protective but soft and flexible enough to provide the needed dexterity.  Knitted gloves offer the best dexterity, and some of the cut rated gloves are the most dexterous.

Cut Resistance Level

The cut protection is achieved by blending high-performance fibers with steel and/or fiberglass. Some job sites specify certain cut resistance levels for specific tasks. Others mandate a certain cut-resistance level across the jobsite irrespective of the task.
The U.S. and Europe have different cut-resistant standards. This has become a big topic of confusion for many people, and it's an important topic to understand, considering that cut hazards are one of the top worksite threats.
We put together an entire article explaining what the different levels are for cut-resistant gloves.

Abrasion Resistance

Similar to cut resistance, abrasion resistance is also rated under both the US standard ANSI 105 and the European standard EN388. The testing between the two standards is similar, but both have their own scale. ANSI 105 is rated on a scale from 1-6, with six being the most resistant to abrasion. The EN388 standard rates abrasion on a scale from 1-4, with four being the most resistant to abrasion. The two testing methods are similar, but they aren't identical, which makes the scales incomparable. A level 3 on the ANSI standard does not equal a level 3 on the EN388 standard.

Puncture Resistance

Again, puncture resistance is also rated on both the ANSI 105 standard and the EN388 standard. The ANSI standard is rated between 1-5, with five being the best, and EN388 is rated 1-4, with four being the best. The test method is simple. A machine measures how much force it takes to pierce a sharp probe through the glove material.

Tear Resistance

ANSI 105 does not have a test method for tear resistance. So, if you need a glove rated against tearing, you’ll need to rely on the European EN388 standard. It's rated between 1-4, with four being the best. The tear test is exactly what you would think it would be. A swatch of glove fabric is clamped into a machine, and the fabric is slowly ripped apart, measuring how much force is required.
This test is likely left out of the ANSI standard because although this data is interesting, it doesn't have a lot of practical purposes. Your hands are exposed to cut hazards, puncture hazards, and abrasion is a good indicator of material quality. Although tear hazards are definitely a thing, they aren’t a direct threat as the other hazards.

Impact Resistance

Impact resistance is the last of the EN388 ratings. It does not have a scale. This rating is pass/fail. The test involves the glove being struck with five joules of force. If on average, less than 7kN of force is transferred through the glove, the glove will be rated P for "pass."
The ANSI 105 standard does not have a rating for impact-resistant gloves . Instead, the US has an entirely separate standard for impact-rated gloves, titled ANSI/ISEA 138. Unlike EN388, this standard has levels. Three levels, to be exact, and level 3 offers the most protection.
To learn more specifics on ANSI/ISEA 138, check out the article we wrote on the topic.

Purpose-Built Feature

Electrically Insulated GlovesThese gloves are known by many different names. Dielectric gloves, Kv Gloves, electrical-insulated gloves, high-voltage gloves, and some just call them rubber gloves. Regardless of what you call them, these are highly specialized work gloves utilized by linemen and utility workers when handling high-voltage lines and equipment.
These gloves are required to be tested and re-tested at a set interval. To learn more, read our Electrical Glove blog post, and if you need your gloves tested and re-certified, we can help. We offer in-house glove testing services with fast turn-around.
Chemical-Resistant Gloves - If you are handling chemicals and you don't want to ruin your hands, a good pair of chemical-resistant gloves are exactly what you need. Unfortunately, it's not as simple as googling chemical-resistant gloves and buying the first pair your see. You'll need to know what chemicals you are dealing with and have some understanding of what glove material best protect from those specific chemicals. Don't worry; we wrote a blog on chemical-resistant gloves to help guide you through the process.
Welding Gloves - There are a lot of different types of welding, as there are a lot of different types of welding gloves to match. Generally speaking, all welding gloves protect from high heat, but some welding methods require higher heat protection. We cover everything you need to know in our welding glove blog post.
Anti-Vibration Gloves - All industries have controversies, and the glove industry is no exception. Anti-vibration gloves have been the center of debate for years. Many manufacturers have marketed gloves as anti-vibration on gloves that just have some cheap padding. This poor practice has left many workers uninterested in utilizing these gloves.
Legitimate anti-vibration gloves can be helpful in preventing long-term issues like Hand Arm Vibration Syndrome (HAVS). This is a much bigger topic that we cover in our anti-vibration glove blog post.
Cold Weather Glove - One of the most common purpose-built features for gloves is cold-weather insulation. The good news is you can get all of the features you are used to in a regular pair of work gloves in a pair of thermally insulated gloves. It's important to utilize warm gloves because prolonged exposure to cold conditions can lead to long-term health issues, all of which we cover in our Cold Weather Work Gloves blog post.
Heat-Resistant Gloves - Heat hazards are no joke, and your regular pair of work gloves are not designed to hold up and protect your hands from extreme heat. Before you get confused, welding gloves are heat-resistant, but not all heat-resistant gloves are welding gloves. The category is much bigger. Much like any of the other specialized gloves, picking the right pair of gloves starts with assessing the hazard. Read our How to Choose Heat-Resistant Gloves blog.

Ordering Safety Gloves for Construction

If you are just looking to get a nice pair of work gloves that you can throw on whenever you need them and can keep on all day, check out our NX13 gloves. These PU palm-coated, nylon shell gloves, have become our most popular work gloves, and we have them in a crinkle grip palm as well.
PowerPak is your go-to supplier for construction safety gloves, offering an extensive range of heavy-duty work gloves, ensuring that your worker's hands are well protected for every job application type. Browse Our Catalog of Products and Order Online Now for a Speedy Delivery! We’ve served the New York Metro area for over 25 years with a large selection of top-of-the-line personal protection equipment, including safety work gloves.
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