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General Questions - Industrial Work Gloves

Q:    Is there a standard sizing chart for industrial work gloves?

A:  There are some standards for disposable gloves, but no real practical standards for industrial work gloves. The reason for this is that there are too many variables that make it extremely hard (if not impossible) for anybody to adhere to. 

Glove manufactures sell their gloves across the world, and the first issue that they encounter is the fact that hand size differs across cultures.  The Balkan region has by far some of the biggest hands, whereby a typical large (size 9) is their medium.  On the other side of the coin, Mexico and China have by far some of the smallest hands where our medium is their large. Canada and the US have multicultural populations where establishing a “sizing” rule of thumb is more challenging than in countries with more homogeneous populations.

On other fronts, the true size of the glove will be affected by the degree to which the liner of the glove stretches.  Given the same sizing, a palm coated glove will stretch far more than a fully coated glove, thereby giving the impression that it’s a lot bigger. Similarly, a glove with a higher content of spandex and Lycra will give the impression that it is bigger.

The best thing I can recommend is that, you keep on sampling gloves for the right size and fit. 


Q:    Are there gloves that are both cut resistant and chemical resistant?

A:  Chemical resistance in a glove is obtained by virtue of two factors.  The first has to do with the ability of the glove material to resist the various types of chemicals. The second has to do with the fact that the gloves must not have any pinholes or ruptures that will allow penetration. Gloves that are scientifically tested to meet both of these conditions are technically rated as “Chemical Resistant” gloves. Gloves that meet only the first condition are not technically rated as “Chemical Resistant” gloves. However, by virtue of their chemical resistant materials, they are still sound for use with light chemical splash action and light dry chemicals.

The odds of finding in the open market a glove that is technically rated as both, cut resistant and chemical resistant, are quite low. This is because most manufactures would be hesitant to technically rate such a glove as “chemical resistant” if they know full well that it will be subjected to sharp or pointed objects that will compromise the impermeability of the glove.

What one is more likely to find is a cut resistant glove with a chemical resistant coating (full coat or palm coat) such as nitrile. For use, this is the best option at this point.


Q:    Are there gloves that are “puncture” resistant?    End use is for workers who are handling trash bags and don’t want to be jabbed by needles.

A: While industrial work gloves are tested for resistance to abrasion, cut, tear and puncture (according to CE EN 388 standard), please note that the test for puncture is not a hypodermic needle test; as the test is conducted with something that looks more like a thin ballpoint pen rather than a needle. The reason the test is conducted this way is because over 95% of the gloves in the market have no resistance to punctures made by hypodermic needles.

There are however, gloves that are made from super fabrics and other state-of-the-art materials that are needle-stick puncture resistant and puncture proof. For these, I recommend looking at products from Turtleskin, Hexarmor or Eureka. These are specialty products that command higher pricing than average.


Q:    In PU gloves, what is the difference between standard PU coating, and water-based PU coating?    Is one coating better than the other?

A:  Most commonly, PU (polyurethane) gloves are made with DMF (or Dimethylformamide) which is the solvent used to dissolved the PU to make the coating dipping paste. The problem with DMF is that it has been identified as a carcinogen that is easily passed through the skin .On the other hand, water-based PU does not contain DMF and does not pose any known health hazards.

To resolve the issue of the DMF danger, the EU has disallowed PU gloves that have levels of DMF greater than 10ppm (parts per million). In North America, there isn’t yet such regulation, and therefore, I strongly recommend any end-user facilities to ask their PU glove supplier for a less than 10ppm certification for their gloves, or to use confirmed water-based PU gloves.

On a last note, the regular PU coating tends to last somewhat longer than water-based PU.

Cut Resistant Questions

Q:    Are cut resistant gloves, cut resistant all over or only on the palm side?

A:  Most, if not all, knitted cut resistant gloves are cut resistant all over and not just on the palm.

The HPPE or Aramid liner is what gives the gloves its cut resistant property. The coating is put on the glove mainly for grip and other properties which the HPPE does not have alone.


Q:    Some cut resistant gloves are said to be made with HPPE.    What exactly is HPPE?

A:  HPPE in an acronym for High Performance Polyethylene. It is a state-of-the-art modern fiber that has a very high tensile strength. By weight, it can be 5 to 10 times stronger than steel, making it an ideal material for making cut resistant gloves.  The fiber is also extremely abrasive resistant, highly flexible and can quickly absorb, disperse and dissipate body heat. In effect, gloves made from this material will feel much cooler than those made from other materials.

Gloves made with HPPE will last exponentially longer than gloves made with traditional materials. While they are more expensive than regular work gloves, they tend to have a lower per use cost over the long haul.

Note that gloves made with HPPE are “cut resistant” and not cut proof.   


Q:    What is the difference between HPPE and Dyneema?    Some distributors make it sound like it is the same thing. Is it?

Good question.  HPPE is an acronym for High Performance Polyethylene, which is the generic term for a lot of the fibers from which cut resistant gloves are made from.

Dyneema® is a brand name / trade mark of a very special high performance polyethylene fibre made and owned by DSM Dyneema®.  It is special because it is of an ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE); and, as I understand it, not all HPPE are of ultra-high-molecular-weight. What this means in practical terms, is that Dyneema® is stronger and has a higher tensile strength than standard HPPE of the same or higher gauge. There may also be other properties which I may not be aware of. However, what is important to note here, is that Dyneema® is a technology platform on its own. It is available in other grades and forms, and it is put around the world to other very critical applications to which no other generic high performance fiber is put to; and that in itself, is a huge pillar of credibility not easily contested.

On other fronts, it is my understanding that, through its licencing agreements with manufacturers and distributors, DSM Dyneema exerts control on the percentage levels of the Dyneema yarns that goes into gloves to ensure critical performance.  I am not sure if this is the case still, but it is a service feature that no other manufacturer or distributor of generic HPPE offers.


Q:    Hi, we just bought some HPPE cut resistant gloves cut level 3. How many washes and drying can these gloves take on average?   The Rep who sold them to us didn’t have a straight answer.

A:    I am not sure if any company that makes or sell gloves has done a study to see how many washes a particular glove can take before breaking down. Rather, this is something that users have to determine on their own.  In effect, the sheer number of tests required to test the hundreds if not thousands of different glove types is what makes the whole thing a near impossible task.

The usefulness of such a study is also questionable, as whatever results would be undermined by the fact that, in terms of longevity, particular application maybe more of a factor than washing and drying. Therefore, I am also unable to say how many washes these gloves will last. However, what I can tell you is that, if these gloves are not exposed to an overly aggressive application, they should last exponentially longer than any standard cotton or nylon gloves.

If within means, I recommend conducting your own in-house study by subjecting 3 pairs of the gloves to the applications, and to whatever standard washing you do to obtain a numerical result.

Medical Grade Disposable Gloves - Questions

Q: Sometimes I perform operations whereby I get exposed to pus and other types of organic decompositions and pathogens. Thereafter, when taking my gloves off, I can smell in my hands the same odor that these pathogenic fluids were emitting. So the question that I have is whether anything is getting through, and what can I do to remedy the situation.

A: On the one hand, surgical gloves are made under very stringent quality controls and scientific test standards, and their distribution and use are very much regulated worldwide. So, unless there is a rupture in the glove and your skin comes in direct contact with the fluids, it is very unlikely (not impossible, but very unlikely) that any pathogens are penetrating or permeating through to your hands.

On the other hand, there aren’t that many products that are 100% fail proof. And so I will address your concern from a more product/technical perspective.


There are three things that we need to keep in mind when talking about disposable glove products.

In light that gloves are used under countless different work conditions, virtually all manufactures warn that the end-user (and not the factories themselves) are solely responsible for determining the suitability of a glove product for their own particular purpose. This is mainly because they make products that will hold up against general and expected conditions, and will not guarantee performance beyond those conditions. In legal terms, the “end-user” is considered (in this case) to be the Health Centre –and not any particular individual using gloves within the facilities. And I gather that this is one of the reasons for the law requiring companies and other organizations to appoint health and safety managers, and for these people to be well trained.

Secondly, it’s important to note that when a glove (or other types of PPE) cannot demonstratively provide 100 percent prevention, safety and prevention has to be (must be) understood in terms of a management system where the proper glove is a good part of it, but not all of it. In light that the pinhole *AQL level system for medical disposable gloves doesn’t completely eliminate pathogenic risks, there should be a more wide understanding in the medical profession that other additional steps and actions may be necessary when dealing with known lethal pathogens.

Last but not least, I want to emphasize that the concern here is with surgical gloves, and not examination gloves. In terms of performance, surgical gloves are designed to be used in work being done inside the body. Examination gloves, on the other hand, are designed for work only at the epidermal level. Surgical gloves are sterile, have a length in between 29 and 30 cm and (by regulation) need to have a pinhole AQL of no more than 1.5. Examination gloves, for the most part, are not sterile, have a lengths between 23 and 24 cm and (by regulation) have a pinhole AQL of 2.5 (North America) and 1.5 (Europe).

*AQL = Acceptable Quality Level

Pinhole AQL is a quality specification used to specify the pinhole rate in various types of disposable gloves. For instance, an AQL of 2.5 means that the defect level from a very large numbers of gloves (say one million pieces) will not be more than 2.5%.


Pinhole AQL Levels

Generally speaking, surgical gloves are certainly excellent hand protection products for preventing pathogens from getting through. In relation to other gloves, they are required by regulation to have a much stricter pinhole AQL level (1.5 vs 2.5); and the fact of the matter is that many surgical gloves have an AQL level even lower than 1.0. For instance, some Ansell surgical gloves have and AQL level of 0.065. So my first recommendation when dealing with known deadly pathogens is to obtain and use the surgical gloves with the lowest pinhole AQL levels that are being made available to you prior to the operation.

Permeation Levels

At the molecular level, different materials have different levels of permeation for chemicals and gases. My understanding is that Neoprene (Chloroprene) has better permeation levels than other glove materials such as latex and nitrile. As such, I would also recommend the use of neoprene surgical gloves when available.

Other Recommendations

  • (Not sure if you do this already as an SOP [Standard Operating Procedure] ) When confronting known virulent pathogens, before putting on the gloves, take a good look at your hands to ensure no scratches or perforations of any kind. If you do find one, even a very small one, make sure to cover it up, so that if the glove ruptures, no pathogens can come in direct contact with the compromised skin. At times, the proper Band-Aid will do the trick. I am recommending this procedure in light of the fact that, sometimes, it’s very easy to get a superficial cut and not know about it, or even forget about it, or just not care about it.

  • Try doubling up with a nitrile or vinyl examination glove under the surgical glove. The doubling up may lessen the dexterity a bit, but I gather it will be less with a nitrile or vinyl examination glove than with another latex glove of any kind. It’s a trial and error thing that has to be tried well before performance.

Thank you for your question.


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