Cut resistant gloves (CRG) are an integral piece of personal protective equipment for many jobs. They are truly the last line of defense between an identified hazard and the end-user. Selecting the correct glove by matching it to the hazard and risk is a key responsibility for the safety practitioners and purchasing departments of any organization whose workers face cut hazards.
This article is intended to serve as a guide for safety practitioners and assist them in understanding of the application of CRG technologies, and which CRG protection levels are best for their workplace.
What are Cut Resistant Gloves?
Cut resistant gloves are gloves that, when fitted, worn, and used properly, resist cuts from blades, tools or sharp materials. The name point to an important distinction. These are gloves that resist being cut. They provide a barrier between the hand and the cutting sharp, but they are not cut proof. Cut resistant gloves might also offer some hand protection against other hazards, such as punctures or abrasions.
How are CRGs Tested?
Gloves get their cut resistance rating by undergoing a test under artificial conditions. The approved testing methods determine how much force (by a blade or rotating blade) is required to cut through the glove’s material. These tests do not reflect real-world industrial situations, applications or conditions. Still, they are the best currently available method of cut resistance. There are at least three cut resistance methods in current use. Whether your workplace needs cut resistant gloves will depend on the outcomes of your hazard or risk analysis. If your analysis identifies cut hazards, it should then run through the hierarchy of hazard controls with PPE needed as the last line of defense.
What Factors Determine Cut Resistance?
Various factors influence the cut resistance of a glove when it is in use, including:
• Frequency of blade contact
• Type of blade (knife, rotating blade, stamped metal edge)
• Amount of force applied
• Length and direction of the cutting force or contact
• Location of the blade’s force on the glove
• Sharpness of the blade’s cutting edge
• Shape and design of the cutting edge (razor, serrated, jagged, etc.)
Of all these, force is one of the most critical factors. A Level 1 glove subjected to a force above its tested capacity is likely to fail, which makes matching the cut resistance glove to the level of force involved especially important.
Educating the end-user that while the CRG is designed to provide protection in the event of a contact with a cutting hazard, contact between blade and glove should be avoided at all costs. A cut resistant glove will provide some degree of protection, but will not stop all cuts. Unless this is clearly stressed, injuries can result from a worker mistakenly assuming that a blade cannot penetrate their safety gloves.
Level A1 to A9 Protection
ANSI ranks the level of cut resistant from A1 to A9. A higher number indicates that the glove material resisted a higher level of cutting force during testing. Click here to view an ANSI chart that provides examples of applications of the various levels of cut resistance.
How to Choose the Right Glove
Start from a known point, such as the ANSI chart. Look at the industry applications they list and determine if your industry falls into a specific level. Pay close attention to worker engagement in terms of comfort, style, color, feel and fit. This will pay the greatest dividends since a concern with the user’s comfort and convenience improves the odds that they will wear the glove whenever it is needed. And be sure to consult someone from Safety Products Inc to ask for feedback on selecting cut level protection. Whatever glove you end up choosing, make sure everyone who will use it understands and is trained in which gloves are appropriate and required for which tasks.
Cut resistant gloves are an integral part of a full array of PPE. Use it in conjunction with other elements of your safety management system, including education, training, task observation and coaching.