Four Steps to Extend the Service Life of Your Safety Gloves
By Alexandra Serban
June 17, 2020
“How can I make my gloves last longer and reduce glove costs?” A question safety managers ask themselves regularly.
Glove costs vary with the material, its thickness, the glove style, and brand. And glove longevity depends on the work being done, but also on the way safety gloves are being taken care of. Here is how to keep glove costs within budget and reduce the total cost of ownership for your top-quality gloves.
1. Choose gloves wisely
A glove’s longevity depends on its durability. Features such as an adequate cut, tear, and abrasion resistance are intrinsically linked to hand safety, but also mean less frequent replacement, and therefore, lower cost per wear.
That’s why it’s important to look at the elements that provide glove strength.
High-abrasion resistance is a desirable attribute of a long-lasting glove. Under EN 388:2016, a typical test subjects the material of the gloves to abrasion by sandpaper under a determined amount of pressure. The protection level is indicated on a scale of 1 to 4 depending on the number of turns until a hole appears in the material. The higher the number, the better the resistance to abrasion.
Cut gloves, for instance, should be able to withstand pressure or damage from sharp metal. The abrasion cycles of Honeywell CoreShield™, our newest cut protection gloves, are almost over 15,000. This is double the limit required (abrasion level 4) by industry tests.
New coatings and manufacturing techniques increase glove durability, too. Strong knitting, engineered yarns, polymers and special treatments help gloves last longer. The CoreShield™ cut-protective range comes with a special coating which ensures that after 5 washing cycles, there are no significant changes in performance or size.
In addition, selecting a comfortable glove will ensure workers remain productive and don’t discard their gloves. The liner material influences wearer comfort, so opt for hypoallergenic and soft materials that absorb moisture.
A dark-colored glove will also enable the wearer to use it for a longer period, as gloves don’t look visibly dirty.
2. Wash gloves as per instructions
Gloves are tricky to clean. The outside, as well as the inside, need to be cleaned and this should be performed according to manufacturer instructions.
Instructions for cleaning cut protection gloves
· Use mild laundry soap or detergent.
· Do NOT use dry cleaning solutions.
· Wash for 45 minutes in room temperature water, do NOT exceed 30°C (86°F).
· Repeat wash if soiling and oil are especially heavy.
· Tumble dry for 35 minutes, do NOT exceed 60°C (140°F).
· Do not bleach.
· Avoid pressing.
· Do not use dry cleaning solutions.
Instructions for cleaning chemical gloves
Chemical gloves may become exposed to these four processes:
- Penetration, the leaking of chemicals through a damaged glove.
- Permeation or “the silent killer”, when chemicals diffuse and permeate through glove surfaces.
- Degradation, when a substance damages the material, making it less resistant.
- Contamination, when the inside of the glove becomes contaminated due to poor donning and doffing practices.
Read our article on how to put on and remove chemical gloves.
To keep their properties and avoid any risk of contamination, most chemical gloves can’t be cleaned. But selecting a glove style that minimizes penetration of liquids and vapor will help reduce costs.
To test chemical resistance, materials are immersed in a certain chemical and the most long-lasting material is the preferred one.
“We have tested gloves for more than 350,000 chemicals and mixtures”, says Divya Jyoti Kapoor, Senior Offering Manager at Honeywell. “Selecting the right glove material is key to reducing potential costs related to accidents, insurance, lost man-hours and productivity. If one glove material lasts up 4 hours, and another one can be used for 8 hours, picking the second one can result in an overall cost reduction”.
Instructions for cleaning impact gloves
Impact gloves are made to remain durable in the harshest working environments. Honeywell Rig Dog gloves are built with reinforced thermoplastic rubber and have minimum stitching on the palm to ensure low oil permeability. They are cut and sewn with multilayer fabrics to provide cut resistance, as well as oil grip and abrasion resistance.
To protect them during washing, follow these steps:
· 30ºC/86ºF machine wash temperature
· Use a mild commercial laundry detergent
· Do not tumble dry
· Drip dry
· Do not iron
· Do not bleach
3. Set up a glove laundering program
Sometimes, soiled gloves are thrown away, when they could be cleaned and re-used.
If gloves can be decontaminated and reused one or more times, the cost per cycle decreases. This cost depends on the purchase price; the number of times gloves can be re-used and the cost to decontaminate them. To be cost-effective, the decontamination process should cost less than replacing the gloves entirely.
Whether you decide to go for an in-house program or externalize laundering to a professional PPE laundering service, this can also help you save money.
4. Store gloves properly
Proper storage extends the service life of gloves. To keep gloves in top shape for as long as possible, don’t neglect safe and appropriate storage.
OSHA recommends storing insulating rubber gloves individually, in a storage bag, to avoid creases and folds that might make them crack from ozone. But more importantly, cleaning rubber gloves incorrectly or folding sleeves can increase the risk of accidental death by electrocution.
In general, it is recommended that gloves be stored in their original packaging or a storage bag. Either way, they should be kept in a cool, dry place, away from strong UV rays and excessive temperatures. And away from chemicals.
Selecting high-quality hand protection PPE and taking good care of it will help you meet the demands of regulations and the needs of your workers. Giving gloves a longer life means protecting your investment.