Cut-Resistant Glove Selection and Use
Although there are no OSHA standards that specifically address cut-resistant gloves, 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 1910.132 and 1910.138 do apply to hand protection.
1910.132 addresses protective equipment in general:
1910.132(a): “Application. Protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers, shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact.”
1910.138 applies specifically to hand protection:
1910.138(a): “General requirements. Employers shall select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection when employees’ hands are exposed to hazards such as those from skin absorption of harmful substances; severe cuts or lacerations; severe abrasions; punctures; chemical burns; thermal burns; and harmful temperature extremes.”
1910.138(b): “Selection. Employers shall base the selection of the appropriate hand protection on an evaluation of the performance characteristics of the hand protection relative to the task(s) to be performed, conditions present, duration of use, and the hazards and potential hazards identified.”
Cut-resistant gloves are designed to protect hands from direct contact with sharp edges such as glass, metal, ceramics and other materials. Cut resistance is a function of a glove’s material composition and thickness. You can increase the level of cut protection by increasing material weight (i.e., ounces per square yard); by using high-performance materials such as Dyneema®, Kevlar®, etc.; or by using composite yarns made with varying combinations of stainless steel, fiberglass, synthetic yarns and high-performance yarns.
Performance characteristics are not only affected by a material’s weight, but also by the coatings applied to the outside surface. Lighter-weight styles offer more dexterity, resulting in less hand fatigue, while their heavier counterparts generally provide more cut and abrasion protection. Coated gloves enhance grip, especially on slippery surfaces. However, some coated gloves may not be appropriate for food handling applications.
Cut-resistant fibers and materials include, but are not limited to:
- Dyneema®: A super-strong polyethylene fiber that offers maximum strength combined with minimum weight. It is up to 15 times stronger than quality steel and up to 40% stronger than aramid fibers, both on a weight-for-weight basis. Dyneema® floats on water and is extremely durable and resistant to moisture, ultraviolet light and chemicals.
- Kevlar®Aramid Fiber: A synthetic polyamide that is five times stronger than steel per unit weight. Inherently flame resistant, it begins to char at 800°F (427°C). The thread made of Kevlar® fiber is used to sew seams on temperature-resistant gloves.
- Kevlar® gloves offer cut and heat resistance. Typically, it is a lightweight and flexible material used for many applications relating to automotive assembly, sheet metal handling and glass handling.
- Fiber-Metal Blends: Many durable, abrasion-resistant gloves are made of a woven fabric blend of Kevlar® and stainless steel.
- Metal Mesh: Interlocked stainless steel mesh offers superior cut and abrasion protection due to its strength.
- Metal mesh gloves are very cut and abrasion resistant and are often used in meat/poultry applications.
- Super Fabric: Combinations of the number of layers, thickness, substrates, surface coatings, etc., lead to fabrics that have varying levels of puncture, cut and abrasion resistance, grip and flexibility. Tactile surfaces offer improved grip of wet and oily surfaces.
- Steel Core: Cut and abrasion resistant and are often used for meat/poultry processing, glass handling, metal fabrication, automotive manufacturing as well as being used in the paper industry.
There are many different glove materials in the market that have a variety of performance characteristics and are used for a variety of different applications.
Although the above materials are known to provide excellent cut resistance, any glove material will provide some measure of cut resistance. DuPont Personal Protection performed a Cut Protection Performance Test (CPPT) comparing leather, cotton and Kevlar®. Kevlar® outperformed the cotton, which in turn outperformed the leather.
The ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 “American National Standard for Hand Protection” defines performance levels for cut resistance, blunt object puncture resistance, hypodermic needle puncture resistance and abrasion resistance. The standard provides guidance on the test methods used as well as pass/fail criteria so that you can determine what hand protection products may meet your needs.
ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 is the fourth revision of the voluntary consensus standard that was first published in 1999 and revised in 2005 and 2011. Significant changes to the cut-resistance classification determination have been made. A single test method has been selected for classification purposes (ASTM F2992-15) and the number of classification levels has been expanded to address the gap among certain levels seen in earlier versions of the standard.
The ANSI/ISEA 105-2011 standard allowed cut-resistance classifications to be determined using either ASTM F1790-97 or ASTM F1790-05 and then calculated using a newly created standardized Cut-Resistance Performance Calculator.
The European Standard EN 388, “Protective Gloves against Mechanical Risks” uses different level groupings and a completely different method of testing than ANSI/ISEA 105. No approved changes have been made to EN 388 at this time. ANSI/ISEA 105 and EN 388 cut levels are not interchangeable.
When specifying cut protection gloves and accessories, it is important to understand the different test methods and standards that may be referenced:
ASTM F1790-97 (1997 test method): Original standard test method for measuring cut resistance of materials used in protective clothing. This method was developed by DuPont and is used by labs that have a Cut Protection Performance Test (CPPT) cut test machine. Cut data generated by this method has been used to specify American National Standard/International Safety Equipment Association (ANSI/ISEA) cut levels.
ASTM F1790-05 (2005 method): This ASTM test method for measuring cut resistance is used by labs that use a Tomodynamometer (TDM) cut test machine. The later revision was harmonized with the ISO 13997 cut test method. Although the method can be used for both the CPPT and TDM cut test machines, practice has been to use ASTM 1790-97 for the CPPT and ASTM 1790-05 for the TDM.
ASTM F2992-15: This ASTM test method is used by labs that use a TDM cut test machine. It is the test method that has been selected for purposes of classifying cut resistance hand protection to the ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 standard.
EN 388-2003: The European norm for protective gloves against mechanical hazards. This test uses the Couptest cut test machine.
ISO 13997: International test standard for the TDM cut test machine.
In the ASTM F1790-97, ASTM F1790-05 and ISO 13997 test methods, the sample is cut by a straight-edge blade, under load, that moves along a straight path. The sample is cut five times each at three different loads and the data is used to determine the required load to cut through the sample at a reference distance of 25 millimeters (mm) of blade travel when testing to ASTM F1790-97 and 20mm when testing to ASTM F1790-05. This is referred to as the rating force or cutting force. The higher the rating force the more cut resistant the material. Neoprene rubber is used as the standard to evaluate blade sharpness.
In ASTM F2992-15, a small rectangular piece of glove material is placed on a metal mandrel of the TDM cut test device. A blade is moved across the specimen until cut-through is achieved. The device measures the distance of blade travel before cut-through as determined when the blade makes electrical contact through the specimen with the metal mandrel. The distance of blade travel is determined with different weights on the device arm holding the blade. The results are then used to determine the weight required to cut the glove material with 20mm blade travel. Using three weights across a minimum of 15 different cuts, the average of all the test scores is converted into the A1-A9 classification scale.
In the EN 388 test method, a circular blade, under a fixed load, moves back and forth across the sample until cut-through is achieved. A cotton canvas fabric is used as the reference material. The reference material and test sample are cut alternately until at least five results are obtained. The cut resistance is a ratio of the number of cycles needed to cut through the test sample versus the reference material. This is referred to as the cut index. The higher the cut index the more cut resistant the material.
Glove manufacturers and industry standards groups have made tremendous progress in testing and measuring cut resistance. With the recent publication of the ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 standard and the new cut-resistance performance levels, it is vital that you understand the different test methods in order to interpret the results, draw accurate conclusions and select the best glove for the task at hand. You must know the grams of cut resistance you need to avoid confusion between the old and new ANSI/ISEA and EN 388 standards. Manufacturers are being given a transition period to change product labeling and content to reflect the 2016 levels.
29 CFR 1910.132 and 1910.138
ANSI/ISEA 105-1999 American National Standard for Hand Protection Classification
ANSI/ISEA 105-2005 American National Standard for Hand Protection Classification
ANSI/ISEA 105-2011 American National Standard for Hand Protection Classification
ANSI/ISEA 105-2016 American National Standard for Hand Protection Classification
ASTM F1790-97 (1997 test method) Standard Test Method for Measuring Cut Resistance of Materials Used in Protective Clothing with CPP Test Equipment
ASTM F1790-05 (2005 method) Standard Test Method for Measuring Cut Resistance of Materials Used in Protective Clothing with CPP Test Equipment
ASTM F2992-15 Standard Test Method for Measuring Cut Resistance of Materials Used in Protective Clothing with Tomodynamometer (TDM-100) Test Equipment
EN 388-2003 Protective Gloves Against Mechanical Risks
ISO 13997 Protective Clothing – Mechanical Properties – Determination of Resistance to Cutting by Sharp Objects
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The information contained in this publication is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the initial date of publication. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This publication is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.
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