Gloves, Risks, and Ratings

Gloves, Risks, and Ratings


In just one generation, the variety and specialization of gloves has exploded. The access to quality information about those gloves has followed close behind. That’s a wonderful development for those who have kept up with this evolution and can confidently select gloves that provide optimum protection tailored to the wearer’s needs.

Yet for many workers and managers, the availability of information exists in a language they don’t understand, and they despair of ever learning that language because they just can’t commit the time required to figure it out in the midst of all their other responsibilities.

If you fit that description, we would like to provide you with an on-ramp to understanding all the mysterious numbers and symbols that can open up a world of understanding about the properties of the gloves your team uses.

We’re going to do this in bite-size installments so you can absorb the information completely painlessly. The purpose will be to get a deeper understanding of how to interpret and compare available glove ratings and to better understand what ratings tell you—and don’t tell you—about a glove.


We wear gloves to protect our hands. Not every task requires protection from the same risks. You can’t effectively choose a glove for a given task unless you have some concept of the nature of the risks you face.

The testing authorities have developed ways to measure a glove’s resistance to the most relevant of these mechanical risks. If you know the risks you face, you can choose the gloves best suited to handle those risks by consulting the ratings assigned to those risks. The table below lists the mechanical risks for which testing is commonly done:

AbrasionBlisters, Rapid glove wear0 – 6ANSI/ISEA 105
CutLacerations from blades or sharp edgesA1 – A9ANSI/ISEA 105
PunctureSplinters, Thorns, Nails, Metal burrs0 – 5ANSI/ISEA 105
ImpactHammer strikes, Hand collisions—
esp. when carrying heavy objects
1 – 3ANSI/ISEA 138
Needle StickNeedle sticks0 – 5ANSI/ISEA 105

For example, If you are a gardener, you want a glove that scores well against abrasion for the all the times you will be using a rake or a shovel, and puncture resistance for the times you are dealing with thorny vegetation.

In future installments, we will look at each of these risks and give a simplified description of the testing methods involved. We will also explore alternate ways of assessing a glove’s performance when information isn’t available for the risks relevant to your tasks.

Click HERE for a video version of this content.


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