The International Safety Equipment Association has published an updated standard for hand protection that helps users make better-informed decisions about which gloves are best for which tasks.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) mandates that employers select and require employees to use appropriate hand protection where there is workplace exposure to hazards such as chemical burns or severe cuts and lacerations. OSHA also mandates that such selection be based on an evaluation of performance characteristics of hand protection relative to the tasks being performed.

ANSI/ISEA 105-2005, American National Standard for Hand Protection Selection Criteria, provides guidance for selecting the correct gloves that will protect workers and assist employers in compliance with OSHA regulations.

"The past practice of rating work gloves’ protection level as ‘good, fair or poor’ created inconsistencies among glove manufacturers in rating their gloves’ ability to provide protection," according to ISEA Technical Director Janice Comer Bradley, CSP. "ANSI/ISEA 105 provides a consistent, numeric-scale method for manufacturers to rate their products against certain contaminants and exposures. With classification based on this scale, users can make better-informed decisions about which gloves are suitable for which tasks."

Glove performance and pass/fail criteria are included for the following hazardous exposures: cut, puncture, and abrasion resistance; chemical permeation and degradation; detection of holes; and heat and flame resistance. New to the 2005 edition of the standard are tests and selection criteria for vibration reduction and dexterity. Cited test methods and classification levels for product characteristics have been updated to reflect the state of the art in materials performance and technology and to harmonize with other existing standards, where possible. To keep the standard concise and meaningful, criteria from the 2000 edition that did not provide added user value or that limited performance were removed.

The new standard also includes a recommended hand protection selection procedure, and reference information on special considerations such as biological protection, extreme temperature applications, cleanroom applications, hazardous materials response applications, electrical protection, and radiation hazards. A section on human factors describes how fit, function, and comfort are incorporated into selection.

"Every end use is different, and no single test method can fully replicate the variety of hazards that a worker may encounter," Bradley added. "The standard offers consistent ratings for glove performance based on reproducible, standardized test methods. Users should contact glove manufacturers for information on the new glove ratings and labeling of their products that meet this standard."

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