Sometimes, things aren’t what they seem…and products don’t deliver what they promise. Case in point: So many “cut resistant” items don’t actually protect body parts from slashes, gashes and cuts, which is a major problem in certain hazardous work environments. When it comes to gloves, many manufacturers market their products as being “cut resistant,” but what exactly does this mean, and what is it that enables a cut resistant glove to actually exhibit a defense characteristic against traumas like cuts?
To answer these questions, we must first take a more focused look at the fiber level of a work glove – the area that defines the cut resistant nature of such a glove. On the surface, so-called “cut resistant” gloves appear as any other garden variety knitted variant; however, what makes the glove cut resistant are the fibers within. Fibers engineered as a para-aramid or polyethylene material will boast cut resistant properties from their very foundation, as these two types of fibers are inherently resistant to cuts – and are ultra-strong. According to studies we have analyzed, these materials are so strong that they can withstand up to 15 times more pressure compared to steel.
So what does this boil down to? Knowing if the glove you’re working with is made from one of these types of materials – found in gloves made by reputable brands like Kevlar or Dyneema – will assure you of full cut resistant protection. From there, increasing protection is a matter of choosing a glove with a certain weight and thickness, with typical variants of these types coming as gloves made from “composite yarns” (adding steel or fiberglass to the fiber to make them seriously strong).
Understanding the Ratings
Into all this comes the ratings as stated by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which are designed to provide the consumer with information regarding what an “anti-cut” glove can withstand. The levels range from zero to five, with five, of course, representing the highest rating; the gloves are rated based on the amount of weight required to cut through the glove, in grams.
To put it in more practical terms, gloves such as disposable nitrile or latex types would have an ANSI rating of zero (0), while leather gloves would have a rating closer to one (1). One of the aforementioned material brands we touched on above, such as Dyneema or Kevlar, can range from a rating of two (2) to four (4), and gloves constructed of metal mesh – such as heavy-duty anti-cut variants found in kitchens – would boast a rating of five (5).
Some Eye-Opening Facts
The hand is one of the human body’s most important tools, but, unfortunately, hand and finger injuries remain the most common types at workplaces, usually caused by the handling of sharp objects. Gloves reduce this risk of injury when handing everything from sheet metal and knives to glass, building materials and rigid plastics.
The industries bringing with them the most reported hand and finger injuries are:
- Motor Vehicle Repair
- Health Care
- Real Estate Services
What’s more, among the 39 different accident categories – including impact/crush/overloading – it is contact with sharp objects that remains the one with the most reported accidents.
The Bottom Line
Cut resistance does not come from a glove’s coating, but those work gloves made from para-aramid and HPPE are great options for moderate cut protection. Should a higher level of cut resistance be needed, engineered yarns are the answer, as they’re made from two or more components such as HPPE and steel.
What you should take away from this article is that hand injuries are costly and far too common in the workplace, and as such it makes sense to understand what part of a “cut resistant” glove is actually resisting those cuts. Just wearing cut resistant gloves will provide 360-degree protection, but wearing the right work gloves can reduce lost work time injuries while keeping everyone safe.