Finding the Right Glove for the Job

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to understanding cut-resistance and gloves.  How much cut-resistance do safety gloves offer?  What do the different levels mean?  How much do I need? 

Safety gloves are worn to protect.  But while some gloves only provide a barrier against dirt, pathogens and body fluids, others can also shield you from pricks, punctures and cuts.

The different levels of cut-resistance in gloves can be confusing.  Joe Geng, Vice President of Superior Glove Works Ltd., offers an infographic that depicts the different cut-resistance levels for gloves and the tasks for which each is best suited. *Please scroll to the end of the article to view the infographic.

Which level of cut-resistant gloves best serves my needs?

Understanding the performance and specifications of cut-resistant gloves is crucial to making sure your employees' hands are properly protected.  The key is to find the right glove for the job.

Sometimes basic gloves may suffice for restaurant workers who handle soft, non-hazardous foods, such as a cafeteria worker who makes peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwiches.  In this case, the cheapest option is likely the best option. Basic poly gloves would suffice in this instance. 

However, you definitely don't want to use gloves that provide inadequate safety for the intended task.  This is called “undergloving.”  We see this frequently during tough economic times when both private and public budgets are under pressure.  The tendency is to trade down in terms of quality in order to save money.

For example, for jobs like deboning meat, there is a very real risk of a puncture. Using a cost-effective poly glove like the one mentioned above might expose that individual to serious injury and the company to significant insurance liabilities. The appropriate glove in this instance would be a nitrile glove that features strong puncture resistance, like the product featured here.

More dangerous jobs such as live-trapping rabid animals or metal-stamping, where there are risks of bites, scratches, cuts, or punctures, demand stronger work gloves such as animal-handling gloves with bite and crush protection suited to the animal. These might be made from Kevlar or metal mesh, and can include gauntlets or extended sleeves to protect the arms.

At the same time, you do not want overkill, buying gloves that are more bulky and more expensive than what the job beckons.  This is called “overgloving.” 

For example, thick chemical-resistant gloves may protect a laboratory scientist from chemical burns, but they will impair the grip and dexterity of a worker using a drill press or lathe, causing an entanglement hazard. To read more about these concerns, check out this link:

Determining the right Proper Protective Equipment (PPE) for Your Workplace

PPE isn't one-size-fits-all.  PPE systems must be individually designed for each job.  Wearing the wrong type of protection can place a worker in more danger, rather than protecting them.

The responsibility of glove and proper protective equipment (PPE) selection ultimately rests with the employer by conducting a hazard risk assessment.  This selection is influenced not only by how well the products protect the workers, but also by how the products and their costs affect the company's balance sheet.

BOTTOM LINE - Proper glove selection will increase safety within the confines of your company and can also increase employee productivity and morale. It is in your best interest to research cut-resistant gloves and which protective products best fit your needs.

Source: Superior Glove Works, Ltd.

Written by Rob Brown