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We’ve all been burned before; we all know it is not a good feeling. Let the minor burns we've experienced in our lives inform our understanding of how life-altering a severe burn can be. There are plenty of statistics on workplace burn injuries over the decades and many stories and pleas from burn victims to take heat hazards more seriously.
It's safe to assume that if you are here, reading this now, you are taking this seriously and hoping to learn more about burn prevention. Because, after all, the best burn treatment is to avoid getting burned in the first place. There are many different types of burn prevention PPE, but today we are focusing on heat-resistant gloves. Let’s dive in.
What Are Heat Resistant Gloves?
The first thing to note when looking into heat-resistant gloves is they aren't heatproof. There is no such thing as heatproof. Heat-resistant gloves will protect you from heat hazards to a point, and that point is defined by its rating. We’ll get to ratings in a bit.
Heat resistant doesn’t mean fire resistant. Some heat-resistant gloves are fire-resistant, but many aren't. Again, you'll need to read product information and ratings to determine if your gloves are also fire-resistant.
So, what are heat-resistant gloves? They are gloves designed to help protect you from burns and help reduce the severity of a burn if it cannot be avoided in the first place. None of us begin work intending to get burned, but mistakes happen, and when they do, the consequences of the mistake can be limited if you have the right PPE. Having a 2nd-degree burn that would have been a 3rd degree or worse makes a world of difference.
One of the biggest lessons to learn about PPE is never assuming anything. Always check the ratings and make sure your gear is equipped to handle the hazards you'll be exposed to. Don't assume a pair of gloves are heat-resistant because they look like heat-resistant gloves. Heat-resistant gloves can look like any type of glove. Welding gloves are probably what first comes to mind, but you can find regular-looking work gloves that are rated for heat resistance.
Different Types of Heat-Resistant Gloves
The process for picking the right pair of heat-resistant gloves is the same process you should use for picking any PPE. You should always start by assessing the hazard and work backward from there. You might think you've already established that the hazard is heat. You’re right, but you’ll need to be more specific. You'll need to consider the type of heat, the heat level, and if you have additional requirements to operate safely.
Type of Heat
What type of heat will you be exposed to? This is the easiest place to start and probably the easiest question for you to answer. Here are some options.
Contact heat – Will you be in direct contact with something hot? This might include handling hot objects.
Convectional heat – Will you be exposed to hot environments where the air around you will be dangerously hot?
Radiant heat – Will your hands be near a source of heat radiation? This is similar to convectional heat, and often both hazards go hand in hand.
Splashes and spills – Are there a chance that extremely hot liquids or molten material could be splashed on your hands?
Flame and fire – Are you working with open flames or anything that would require FR PPE?
You don’t have to pick just one of these options. Often workers are exposed to multiple hazards at once, or maybe you just need a good pair of gloves to handle a wide variety of work.
Once you’ve established your hazards, you’ll need to determine the level of each hazard. When we say level, we're talking about temperature. If you have a pair of gloves rated to protect up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit, and you pick up a metal rod that's been heated up to 400 degrees, you will get burned. Figure out the maximum temperatures for all of the hazards you’ll be exposed to.
Lastly, you'll need to know if you need these gloves to have any additional features or lack of specific limitations. For example, if you are TIG welding, you need heat protection, but you also need dexterity. If you are working with sharp objects, you may need cut resistance along with heat protection. Consider all the factors and ensure you're looking for the right pair of gloves.
Once you have all that information, it’s pretty easy to find gloves that meet that spec. Especially if you are looking for gloves that meet the EN407 standard, then all you need to do is know what individual protection levels you need and then look for a glove with an EN 407 badge that matches.
How to Understand EN407 Ratings
When looking for the right pair of heat-resistant gloves, the EN407 standard is incredibly useful. It's a small badge icon that gives you a lot of useful information. But, if you don’t know what you are looking at, the badge can be very confusing.
So, let's break it down. There are two different EN407 badge icons. If the icon has a flame on it, it means that the gloves are flame resistant rated. We any FR product, it's important to understand that FR doesn't mean the PPE is fire-proof. It means it is designed to self-extinguish faster than traditional materials, and it will help prevent the spreading of the flame. The gloves can still ignite, and you can still get burned, but the FR protection on the glove will lessen the severity of the burn.
If the badge has a set of curved lines, that means the glove has not been rated for flame resistance and is only rated for non-flame heat resistance.
Under the badge is six digits. Each digit represents a different testing standard for heat protection. All test standards under EN407 are rated between one and four, four being the best and X representing "no rating."
Flame Resistance is the first digit. As mentioned previously, even if the gloves are rated as a four, that does not mean the gloves are fire-proof. It means they will very effectively limit the spread of the flames and quickly self-extinguish.
During the test, the glove material is exposed to flame. Self-extinguishing within 15 seconds earns a level one rating. Self-extinguishing within 10 seconds earns a level two rating. Self-extinguishing within three seconds earns a level three rating. Self-extinguishing within two seconds earns a level four rating.
Contact heat is the second digit. This testing method requires the glove material to be in contact with set temperatures. The temperature shift on the opposite side of the fabric is monitored, and if the shift is less than 50 degrees Celsius within 15 seconds, the glove is awarded the rating for that temperature level. 100° C is level one 250° C is level two 350° C is level three 500° C is level four
So, for example, a glove material can be tested by putting it in contact with a surface pre-heated to 350 degrees Celsius. After 15 seconds, if the inside surface of the glove material does not increase by 50 degrees Celsius, that glove will be awarded a level three for contact heat.
Convective heat is the third digit under the badge. For this test, the front and back of the glove are exposed to heat from an open flame. The inside temperature of the glove is monitored and timed on how long it takes it to shift 24 degrees Celsius.
If it takes four seconds for the glove interior to increase by 24°C, the glove is awarded a level one. More than seven seconds awards a level two. More than 10 seconds awards a level three. And more than 18 seconds awards a level four for convective heat protection.
Radiant heat is the fourth digit. This test is similar to convective, but with the radiant heat test, only the back of the glove is tested against the heat from a radiant source rather than an open flame.
Similarly, the internal temperature of the glove is monitored and timed on how long it takes it to shift 24 degrees Celsius.
If it takes seven seconds for the glove interior to increase by 24°C, the glove is awarded a level one. More than 20 seconds awards a level two. More than 50 seconds awards a level three. And more than 1 minute and 35 seconds awards a level four for convective heat protection.
Small Splashes of Molten Metal Resistance is the fifth digit. In this test, small droplets of molten metal are dripped onto a glove sample. The temperature of the opposite side of the sample is monitored. The number of droplets is counted in the amount of time it takes the opposite side to increase by 40 degrees Celsius.
A total of 10 droplets before the temperature rises by 40°C awards a level one. Fifteen droplets awards a level two. Twenty-five droplets awards a level three. And 35 droplets awards a level four resistance to small splashes of molten metal.
Large Splashes of Molten Metal Resistance is the sixth and final digit. In this test, a material that is similar to human skin is placed under a glove sample. A measured amount of molten metal is poured onto the sample. The larger amount the glove can resist before damaging the skin, the higher the rating it will be awarded.
Resisting 30 grams of poured molten metal awards a level one rating. Sixty grams is level two. One hundred twenty grams is level three. And protecting the synthetic sink from 200 grams of poured molten metal awards a level four.
It’s important to remember that not all gloves will be rated in all of these categories, and you’ll often see ratings that look like this, X2XXXX. Meaning the glove was only tested/rated for contact heat.
Applying this Information When Glove Shopping
Hopefully, you can see how easy glove shopping can be when armed with this information. Once you access the hazard type and hazard level, all you have to do is find a pair of gloves with an EN407 rating to match.
PowerPak offers a wide variety of work gloves that offer protections beyond EN 407. Be sure to visit our website and check out our selection.