Breaking Down Hand Injuries

Though your company may not be one of them, there are a number of organizations out there, especially in the construction industry that have a 100% glove policy. What that means is that whenever you are on the jobsite you will be wearing gloves. Why? Simply because hand injuries are one of the top injuries and account for a huge number of lost hours.
What are the most common reasons why your employees need to wear gloves?
Here’s a breakdown for you:

(Source: Kimberly-Clarke literature)

Video of a glass crushing using Hexarmor gloves

If you aren’t familiar with Hexarmor gloves, you need to be. Hexarmor gloves are unique for puncture resistance, needle stick, abrasion resistance and cut resistance. Because of the technology that Hexarmor uses the standard cut rating really doesn’t even make sense anymore. I personally use a Hexarmor glove to pull blackberry wines at my home because I can literally grab hand fulls of the stuff and pull without worrying about getting stabbed. That’s not an exaggeration.

There a new video on youtube showing a hexarmor glove being used in the smashing and disposal of a glass tube that was used in the nuclear industry. Pretty cool.

Find out why Hexarmor gloves are unique and how they can protect you in your workplace with this video on Youtube as well.

ASTM F1790 Standard Test Method for Measuring Cut Resistance Video

A new YouTube video by Hexarmor Products is the newest addition to the series of videos by Hexarmor showing how cut resistance, puncture resistance and laceration resistance is measured.

The ASTM F1790 is the standard most frequently used in the United States as a way to measure the cut resistance of safety products. HexArmor tests all of its products using the ASTM F1790, and then applies the ISEA rating scale to obtain a rating based on the grams of weight needed to cut through the material. All HexArmor products rate Level 5 ISEA for cut resistance, which is an ASTM F1790 gram rating of over 3500 grams.

ASTM F1790 Standard Test Method for Measuring Cut Resistance of Materials Used in Protective Clothing. This test method assesses the cut resistance of a material when exposed to a cutting edge under specified loads. Data obtained from this test method can be used to compare the cut resistance of different materials.

Also available by Hexarmor are the following videos on YouTube:

Industrial puncture resistance, laceration resistant hand and arm protection

Shielding, cut-resistance from jagged or pointed hazards

Shielding, cut-resistance from jagged or pointed hazards

Cut, Puncture, Impact Resistant Solutions for Oil and Gas by HexArmor

HexArmor Needle-Resistant PPE: Proven needlestick protection in gloves and arm guards

HexArmor Chrome Series Cut-Resistant Mechanics’ Gloves

Find out for yourself why Hexarmor is in a class by itself when it comes to cut resistant, puncture resistant and laceration resistant gloves.

Pay attention to the 4-digit number on your gloves

If you’re like most people, you’ve never really asked yourself what the 4-digit number on those pair of gloves you’re wearing was all about. It isn’t on all gloves but it’s on a lot of them and it there to provide you with information about the glove.

It’s the EN388 rating and it measures abrasion resistance, blade cut resistance, tear resistance and puncture resistance in that order. The performance rating is 1 to 4 with 1 being the lowest and 4 the highest. The blade cut resistance is the only exception; this rating goes up to 5.

This standard is actually the European standard, the ANSI standard, which is the US standard doesn’t have similar symbol that covers all these categories.

Knowing and understanding this rating can help you make sure that you have right glove for the right application.

Helping Hand Spring 2011

The “Industrial Safety & Hygiene News” (ISHN) in conjunction with the “International Glove Association” (IGA) have put together a 10 pages document entitled “Helping Hand” that is available for download.

Among the topics covered in the great publication are:

  1. “Improving Worker Safety: Certifying Personal Protective Technologies” discussing the issue of third party certification and quality control in PPE.
  2. New Developments in testing and Evaluating the Next Generation Structural Firefighting Gloves”
  3. “The Basics of Cotton Used for Work Gloves”
  4. “The Basics of Leather & Synthetic Materials Used for Work Gloves”

A lot of great information. Get your own copy here.

Why all gloves are not created equal

Have a look at the box of disposable gloves that you use. Does it claim to be “100%” latex, nitrile or natural rubber? While perhaps unintentionally, that statement, is actually misleading. In the case of nitrile gloves, what they probably mean to communicate is that it contains no latex at all as one of the main reasons that people switch to nitrile has to do with latex allergies. The fact of the matter is that all of these materials require some type of plasticizer and/or activation agent to be added to the latex, the nitrile or the natural rubber (somewhere between 4-9%). The issue is that you can claim it is 100% if as long as it is mostly made of that material (the same, by the way, is true about food. As long as it is over 50% natural, you can claim it is 100% natural. Does this sound right to you?!??!).

The problem, however, is that fillers can also weaken a glove. Anything over 10% can begin to affect the quality of the glove. The nature of the fillers is another problem. As long as the fillers are of the type that will help performance all is well and good. Many fillers, however, are used, not to help improve performance but rather to cut the cost of the raw material (clay for example, in the case of nitrile). Rather than improve the quality, they adversely affect it.

The bottom line then is that while a certain amount of fillers are necessary, the quantity and nature of the fillers is hard to determine except through trial and error. You aren’t going to be able to determine anything from the label. You’re going to have to try different gloves and/or rely on reviews and recommendations by others.

Once you find a glove that works well for you, you’re best off sticking with it… at least for now. Unfortunately, a manufacturer may suddenly source a glove from china or Singapore or Mexico or somewhere else without letting you know. The quality may suddenly change and then you’ll just have to start testing all over again.

A Basic Guide to Chemical Glove Materials

Disclaimer: This guide is intended for general guidelines only and should not be used to determine the exact glove to use in a specific application. Glove manufacturers should provide a chemical degradation chart for the specific gloves that they provide. Use these charts in combination with the MSDS sheets for the chemicals that you are using in the process to determine the exact glove to use for optimum protection.


Glove Material

Good for…


Natural rubber/Latex is probably the most commonly used material for gloves, especially disposable gloves. Because of its elasticity, it conforms well to the hand and is resistant to tears and general wear. Latex provides a good barrier against most alcohol and solvents. It does not protect against oils as oils will rapidly eat through and deteriorate latex.

Warning: Latex use, over time, can result in a serious latex allergy.


Nitrile is suited for a variety of solvents, oils, greases, some acids and some bases. It is fairly strong and resists tears and cuts.


Neoprene is an especially good material for use in extreme cold as it maintains its elasticity in low temperatures. It rovides good protection against for most oils, greases, fuels, phenols, organic hydrocarbons and acids.

Butyl Rubber

Butyl rubber, like Neoprene, is a good choice for work in low temperatures as it retains its elasticity in cold environments. Its density also makes it a good choice when air tight protection is needed in either/or liquids or gas. Good protection against most organics, strong acids, ketones, gases and vapors.

PVC (Polyvinylchloride)

PVC provides good grip in both wet and dry applications and provides good protection against most water-soluble chemicals like acids and alkalines. It is a good choice as a replacement glove where allergies are an issue.

Silver Shield

Highly impermeable to more chemicals and solvents than any other type of glove on the market today. Made from Norfoil®, a lightweight, flexible laminate it is ideally suited for chemical and petrochemical industries, hazmat spill clean-ups, medical laboratories, and a host of other applications.


Viton is a synthetic rubber-fluoroelastomer that is resistant to cuts, tears and abrasions. Offers the highest permeation resistance to gas or water vapors of any glove compound available today. Ideal for use in ketones (eg. M.E.K., M.I.B.K., Acetone) and esters (eg. Tricresyl Phosphate, Amyl Acetate, Ethyl Acetate)

Which rating are they using?

Confused about cut resistance ratings? You’re certainly not alone and there’s a very good reason why.

The truth is that there are two different ratings when it comes to cut-resistance. There’s the ANSI/ISEA rating and the EN388 (the European) rating. Now you would think that a glove sold here in the USA would be rated according the ANSI/ISEA rating, right? Not necessarily and here’s why. The European rating usually makes your gloves look better if you’re a manufacturer of cut resistant gloves. A glove that would only rate a cut level 2 according to the ANSI/ISEA rating is a cut level 3 by the EN388 rating so, if I use the latter rating, I can put a “3” on my glove instead of a “2”.

Here’s how the ratings break out

Cut Level

Weight in grams needed to cut with 1″ blade travel





















You can see that if I’ve got 300 grams of cut resistance, I’m going to prefer to list the EN388 rating because rather than my glove being a cut level 1, I can rate if as a cut level 2.

Glove manufacturers will often claim that they use the EN388 rating because they sell the gloves in Europe as well as here in the USA and that may well be true. Nonetheless, at some point you need to be aware of this and make sure, when you are comparing cut resistance that you aren’t comparing apples and oranges. Make sure, if you need a cut level 3 that you are, in fact, getting a cut level 3.

Understanding Cut Resistance (Part 6)

Stumble It! Digg! Add to Mixx! Pownce

A step-by-step plan for making sure that you get the right cut resistant glove

Whether you are trying to select cut resistant gloves because of a new procedure or trying to reduce the injury rate that you are presently experiencing, you need to follow a step-by-step process to ensure that you end up with the best glove possible.

Step 1 – Evaluating the present product and situation

Before you can solve a problem, you have to have a clear understanding of what the problem actually is. For this you need to gather data. Accurately tracking when the injuries occur, where they occur and how they occur is the type of data that you will need in order to move on to step 2.

What is the cut resistance level of the gloves you are presently using? Are the gloves actually being worn? If not, why not?
These are the types of questions that you need to be asking. A clear understanding of the nature of the problem is always the first step.

Step 2 – Analyzing the data

Where are most of the injuries happening? Is there a specific time of day when there are a lot more injuries? Are certain workers getting injured more than others? Are the gloves that you are presently providing not being worn because they are itchy, uncomfortable?

Step 3 – Identifying solutions

Is it possible to engineer the problem away? Would a blade guard reduce injuries? Would breaks in the routine helps?

Increasing the level of cut resistance in the gloves may not be the best or only solution. Maybe a more comfortable glove that the workers will actually wear would solve the problem.

Step 4 – Trying out the solutions and/or the new products

Use several different cut resistant gloves and measure the results. Implement the changes that you identified and see what seems to be most promising. Track you results over time.

Step 5 – Repeat

Repeat steps 1 – 4 until you feel you have made the appropriate changes and reduced the injuries as much as possible.

Other points:

  • Get everyone involved
    If many hands make light work, then putting our heads together helps us come up with new and more creative solutions.
  • Use manufacturer reps and distributor sales people
    Getting manufacturers and local safety supply distributor reps involves means that you will be exposed to a broad range of products rather than having one manufacturer rep trying to force a fit with a product that he might have. Do some research. There might be a product out there that you didn’t know existed.
  • Be creative and step back from time to time
    Get a fresh perspective, be creative, try something different,… these will help come up with solutions and answers that might otherwise elude us. All great changes came about because someone thought up something new and different.

You can download the past 6 blogs as a single document in pdf format here.