OHS Canada Magazine

Four Things to Consider When Buying Multi-Use Gloves

April 11, 2017
By Frank MacDonald

It would be great to find one glove that works for every application, but just look at the number of activities going on in industries like the automotive sector, manufacturing or construction, and finding multi-use gloves can be challenging. But the good news is that it’s not impossible. This article examines things that you should consider when looking for a universal glove.

When is it right to consolidate gloves?

Before we look at things to consider when consolidating gloves, it’s important to look at when it’s right to buy multi-use gloves. When you have similar jobs that have similar risks, hazards and environments, it’s a safe bet that you can reduce the number of glove styles that you’re purchasing. However, if the styles you’re looking to consolidate are for vastly different purposes, it won’t be as easy and isn’t recommended.

Someone working in the warehouse moving boxes won’t need the same protection as someone working in the metal-fabrication division. Now, let’s look at the factors to consider.

1. The conditions

The conditions are the hazards that are present in each application, as well as the work environment as a whole.

The hazards:
Look to buy multi-use gloves in areas that have similar hazards, i.e., cut, puncture, back-of-hand impact. If only one area in the business needs protection from hypodermic needles, then that area shouldn’t be considered for consolidation.

The environment:
Do the areas have similar temperatures? Your employees working in the freezer don’t want to wear a glove that was designed to keep employees cool in hot temperatures — and vice-versa.

2. Material composition

What your glove is made from matters a lot. Consider if you need a leather glove (for high abrasion resistance) or a string-knit glove (for cut resistance). The two most popular options for string-knit gloves are TenActiv™ and Kevlar®; both have their own strengths (and weaknesses).

— Material keeps hands cool
— Lint-free
— Good for food handling
— Easily cleaned, can use bleach

— Cut-resistant and heat-resistant properties
— Will not melt upon contact with open flame
— Easily cleaned, but do not bleach
— Great for sparks

You should also consider the palm coating you’re using when selecting a multi-use glove. Palm coatings improve grip and puncture resistance and can make gloves touchscreen-compatible. Each palm coating has its own strengths and weaknesses.

3. Added features

Industries like oil and gas have a lot of activities going on, and the threats will be similar from one application to another. For instance, impact injury is always a concern.

Technological advancements have helped to improve glove innovation. So an anti-impact glove should have:

— Anti-impact padding;
— Vibration-dampening palms;
— Arc-flash protection;
— ANSI A5 cut resistance; and
— ANSI 5 puncture protection.

Yet, it still has amazing dexterity, making it suitable for multiple applications.

4. Dexterity

Consider how much dexterity is needed for the individual tasks when buying multi-use gloves. If each application needs a different level of dexterity, you may want to look at purchasing a glove for the area where the most dexterity is needed. It’s easier to use a highly dexterous glove in an area that doesn’t need it than the other way around.

Benefits of multi-use gloves

There are several benefits to replacing several gloves with a single multi-use glove. The most notable is the cost savings, but there will also be less employee confusion about which glove to wear for a particular application. This means employees will be more willing to be involved in safety decisions, and it can improve compliance rates.

Frank MacDonald is the vice president of sales at Superior Glove in Acton, Ontario.

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