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Glove myths exposed

Supplier: Ansell Industrial Healthcare
23 June, 2011

Myth 1: Glove selection is complicated.

The Ansell Protection Solutions Guide is an on-line resource designed to simplify glove selection. The Guide couples vital information with comparison charts and application images.

The catalogue summarises accurate and essential information into comparison charts and easy-to-follow decision trees. The type of protection required is grouped into three categories: chemical and liquid, mechanical and product protection, which are colour-coded for easy reference.

Once the type of protection has been determined, the catalogue provides guidance as to which protection segment and duty level may be appropriate for each application. Finally, the catalogue guides users to the glove that best meets their safety, productivity and comfort requirements which, coupled with testing by the customer in the field for the chosen application, provides a comprehensive guide for the appropriate choice of glove.

A copy of Ansell’s Protection Solutions Guide catalogue can be downloaded at http://www.ansell.com.au/protection-solutions-guide

Myth 2 Gloves have slippery surfaces which makes objects difficult to grasp.

Gloves are offered that include a textured finish on the fingertips, which is ideal for grasping smaller and lighter objects such as test tubes and glassware. For larger, heavier objects, gloves are available that incorporate a unique new technology that creates a roughened surface comprised of microscopic channels in a patented ultra-thin coating, which directs fluids away from the grip surface

Myth 3: It’s difficult to find the right hand protection when handling aliphatic hydrocarbons.

Nitrile gloves are the right choice when working with aliphatic hydrocarbons. These gloves will not deteriorate when exposed to animal fats, lubricating oils and similar products, and they will protect against water solutions of highly polar compounds such as hydrochloric acid, phosphoric acids, sodium hydroxide and most salts.

Myth 4: People who suffer latex allergy can’t find a suitable alternative glove.

Workers who know or suspect they have a latex allergy should consider switching to a synthetic alternative, such as nitrile, neoprene or vinyl (PVC) gloves.

Myth 5: You can’t have a glove that will protect against methylene chloride, hexane and acetone, yet has the dexterity needed for working with glassware.

Ansell has neoprene gloves that provide excellent broad range splash resistance in a thin mil glove. Neoprene is also better than other disposable gloves in providing splash protection from DMSO, DMAC and DMF, which are common chemicals used in most pharmaceutical laboratories as splitting agents. Considering the many different chemicals used in an analytical lab setting, neoprene is the better all-around, disposable glove option.

Myth 6: Protective gloves never fit properly

Gloves are available in all sizes. Because proper fit is essential to comfort and dexterity, it is worth the time required to physically measure each worker's hand. Use a dressmaker's cloth tape to measure around the hand, above the thumb and below the fingers. Or, wrap a strip of paper around the hand, mark the length, and then flatten the paper and use an ordinary ruler to determine the length.

Some people have long, slim fingers and others have short, stubby fingers. Because hands are so different, the most comfortable glove for an individual worker may be one-half or even one full size larger or smaller than the person's measured hand size.

Myth 7: Leather gloves offer a significant level of cut protection.

Despite their thickness, leather is just skin and can be cut as easily as human skin, especially when it is wet or covered with oil. Construction in the palm area of leather gloves also leads to some misconceptions. It is tempting to believe – based on appearance alone – that a patch palm is going to double your protection. The reality with most patch-palm leather glove styles is that the patch exists as a kind of bridge between two pieces of leather to create a full palm. This enables the glove manufacturer to maximize use of the full hide by using up all the smaller leftover pieces. The fact is, if the thread wears away on the patch, the glove palm splits in two.

Some employers unwittingly ignore the risk to staff and their productivity by issuing leather gloves that only provide minimal protection and poor tactile performance.

Myth 8: You can’t Trust Cut Performance Ratings

A cut protection performance test is the approved test procedure/machine in compliance with the European EN388 Standard.  The instrument used for this test consists of a circular, free rotating blade, under pressure from a standard weight, which is moved backwards and forwards over the surface of the test material over a fixed stroke length. The test result is the number of cycles taken for the blade to cut through the material. To take the sharpness of the blade into account the test is performed using a standard material before and after testing the sample, the mean of these two tests on the standard material is defined as blade cut Index 1. The test result is the ratio of the number of cycles required to cut through the sample to the number of cycles required to give blade cut Index 1.

Where multiple layer materials are involved, the layers are assembled and tested as they would be in the garment. Two test samples are selected, each sample is tested five times and a mean blade cut index calculated from the five tests. The performance level is awarded in accordance with the lower mean blade cut index of the two samples.

As laboratory test results cannot exactly replicate real-world working environments, the standards must not solely be relied on when making a decision. These test results are used as a guide by manufacturers such as Ansell to meet safety standards set out by regulatory bodies.  Practical trials to demonstrate a glove’s ‘fit for purpose’ are recommended to make an adequate assessment. Operational testing and evaluation must be a critical component of any thorough risk-assessment process when selecting a glove.