Optimal grip is the pinnacle when choosing a glove: the higher and more precise the level of grip and control that a glove provides, the more benefits it brings in terms of decreased hand-related injuries, costs and waste and increased productivity.
So what should the health and safety professional look for when considering suitable work gloves? A number of materials and coatings can be used and various factors should be taken into consideration, including the required dexterity, mobility, durability, comfort and flexibility of the glove.
Performance, as well as protection, is essential; equally crucial is the use of the appropriate glove for the specific task and the risk involved. Safety gloves have come a long way in the last few years. Before the advent of newer technology, gloves were made of materials such as leather that offered protection in dry environments, but did not give secure grip and control.
While older-style leather rigger gloves, sometimes described as the ‘dinosaur’ of gloves, are still occasionally used for low-risk handling, such as in gardening and rubbish removal, they are thick, heavy and uncomfortable and lack grip in many industrial applications, especially those involving oil.
Latex or natural rubber products, which are more dexterous and fit better than leather, are still widely used, but although they give good grip in dry conditions, as do PVC-coated gloves, they do not grip well in oily or wet environments.
Nitrile rubber has largely replaced latex rubber in glove coatings due to its superior durability and resistance to abrasion, grease, oil and other petroleum-based products and water.
The knitted seamless glove liner engineered of nylon, polyester or other technical fibres such as Kevlar or high density polyethylene has allowed glove manufacturers to experiment with different coatings. A few years ago, gloves were dipped with flat nitriles, but turned slippery the oilier and greasier they became, so sponge nitrile and foam nitrile coatings have been developed more recently.
The latest coatings
Making the nitrile a sponge or foam allows it to absorb an element of the surface oil or grease covering a component or surface, leaving it almost dry. This enables purchase on the flat or round surfaces of objects being lifted, carried or assembled that were ungraspable using standard products. Foam and sponge nitrile therefore facilitate the making of extremely dexterous gloves.
Sponge nitrile coatings offer superior grip when handling both greasy and lightly oily objects, without losing the benefits of flexibility and touch. The coating makes use of a maximum oil absorbency (MXOA) nitrile dip that conforms and adheres to the glove liner and stands up to repeated washings with no shrinkage and without causing the layers to separate.
To make these new types of gloves with specialised coatings, the glove liners are dipped in the sponge or foam nitrile coatings. Depending upon the application, gloves can be palm dipped, three-quarter dipped or fully dipped. Both sponge and foam nitrile can be applied in varying thicknesses according to the degree of oil absorption required for different applications.
The newest technology uses compressed foam nitrile and compressed and embossed sponge nitrile on the palm of the glove, giving a glove with just the right amount of absorption to give the wearer a very secure grip. Because the nitrile is embossed and compressed, it does not allow oil or grease to absorb through to the hand, providing a significant reduction in dermatological risk, increased hygiene and better control. Compression allows a greater amount of nitrile to be put on the palm without the wearer losing any dexterity.
Embossing a pattern onto the palm gives a channel for any excess oils and greases to run away and effectively puts hundreds of little hinge points on the glove, so increasing the level of natural movement of the hand. The use of double-dipped foam nitrile is even more innovative. After being dipped in flat nitrile to give the glove a complete barrier, foam nitrile is added on the palm, so that no matter how oily or greasy a product is, nothing will get through the glove.
Selecting the correct material for your environment
There is a huge range of industries where excellent grip is an absolute must. While a nitrile-coated glove will offer protection against a wide range of chemical substances and physical, mechanical and thermal hazards, those coated with sponge nitrile are particularly well suited in industries such as aerospace, automotive, manufacturing and assembly and precision engineering, because they cope with both dry and oily situations with ease.
Sponge nitrile gloves that are palmor three-quarter coated are perfect for grip in tasks such as assembly work, construction, light engineering and service, repair and overhaul. Fully-coated gloves are excellent for precision tasks in higher-contamination environments such as highways maintenance, recycling plants, construction, civil engineering and utilities.
Foam nitrile coated gloves are great for use in mechanical industries, plastics manufacturing, textiles, logistics, warehousing, finished goods, packaging, packing and inspection, component assembly and gardening, since they are ideal for dry or slightly oily applications that require a high degree of dexterity and sensitivity and where a precise grip is important.
Palm-coated foam nitrile gloves are perfect for use in dry grip situations, and carry the additional benefit of a tactile feel. Three-quarter or fully coated and palm foam double-coated gloves are spot on for dry, light oil and full oil submersion applications.
There is no doubt that the superior level of grip offered by revolutionary material coatings including sponge and foam nitrile has improved the level of safety for many workers who were previously at risk of serious injury from lost grip and control.
Today’s leading glove manufacturers are continually carrying out research into developing new and improved innovations to help improve the grip of their gloves. The future is likely to bring even more task-specific developments to this highly important area of personal protection equipment.
Consequences of inadequate grip
Good glove grip is essential to avoid potential accidents and serious injury in the workplace from loss of secure control. Individuals working in oily, greasy, wet, soapy and dry conditions need gloves that grip properly to protect them from injury, reduce hand fatigue and enable them to work efficiently.
Potential downsides of poor grip include:
- Hand fatigue from overcompensation
- Musculo-skeletal injuries from trying to grip too hard
- Risk of objects being dropped or slipping through hands
- Transference of risk to another part of the body from the hand, such as to thighs or toes
- Increased risk of cuts to the wearer
- Lack of hand hygiene
- Dermatological issues – risks to the skin
- Lack of control over work procedures.
Globus serves customers in the UK and Ireland with professional hand and arm protection solutions. Globus’ portfolio consists of products from the Showa Best and Skytec ranges and it is committed to a zero tolerance approach to product and service deficiency. Globus is a privately held company and is based in Manchester, UK.
A valuable facet of Globus comes in the form of bespoke solution building for customers. This can draw on any number of areas of expertise depending on requirements, thus ensuring a tailored solution and a supporting business case for every customer.
Innovation, ergonomics and constant quality in the name of productivity
Gloves from the Globus portfolio are not only associated with reliability and durability, but also with innovation. They conform to relevant European Standards and carry the CE Mark in accordance with current legislation. Rigorous daily testing and quality control inspection ensures continuity and reliability further improving safety for the wearer.
Distribution and Support
From modern facilities in Manchester, Globus delivers outstanding distribution and support to its customers. This comprises industry-leading delivery response times and extensive inventories of stock in the UK, so guaranteeing consistency of supply.
Our experienced team of hand protection experts are trained to deliver robust and measurable hand protection solutions in conjunction with the extensive network of safety equipment distributors.
Article published with the kind permission of Globus.
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