Selecting safety gloves takes some consideration. There isn’t one universal glove that protects against hazards for every job. You must take a moment to determine which pair is right for you. Here are some important things to consider in protecting your most important tool: your hands.
- Fit: Measure your hand circumference around the palm or at the base of the fingers. The number of inches will determine your safety glove size.
- Dexterity: Find a pair of safety gloves that feels as though you are not wearing gloves at all; disposable thin-gauge gloves made from natural rubber latex (NRL), nitrile, neoprene or plastic PVC offer the most dexterity and sensitivity. Thin, disposable gloves allow for work with small parts, lab work, patient contact and food preparation. As thickness increases, gloves become more durable and offer more protection, but dexterity is decreased.
- Protection against Biological Contaminants: Use disposable safety gloves, such as medical grade exam gloves for handling viral and bacterial agents.
- Protection against Chemicals: Use disposable nitrile gloves when handling oils and grease. They also protect against dry chemicals and many other lab chemicals. These types of gloves can be layered to provide added protection.
- Toughness: Wear cotton or leather safety gloves, preferably with coating, when handling abrasive or heavy objects. Gloves coated with NRL, PVC, nitrile, neoprene and polyurethane outwear normal cotton and leather gloves by 10 to 20 times. Safety gloves with coating offer the least amount of dexterity so choose a pair with lighter weight coatings, palm-coating or flat-dipped gloves.
- Cut Resistance: If you need to protect your hands against sharp objects, choose gloves with a higher level of cut resistance (Level 0=<200 grams to Level 5=3,500 grams).
- Handling Oily or Slippery Objects: Wear sponge or foam-coated gloves that allow you to have a solid grip on slippery objects. Oil is able to penetrate these types of gloves, making the objects easier to hold.
- Chemical Hazards: Wear safety gloves coated in NRL, nitrile, neoprene or PVC when handling janitorial or sanitation products, and fuels, grease and oils. Wear butyl or laminate gloves when handling ketones. Wear neoprene when handling acids and caustic materials.