KANBrief 1/23

Guideline to the selection and use of protective gloves

Information from numerous standards is compiled in a single document in the new ISO/TR 8546, making selection of the right protective glove easier.

For how long does a chemical protective glove offer protection? Against what surface temperatures does a thermal protective glove provide protection, and for how long? Why are two performance characteristics stated for cut protection, and what do they mean? These questions arise during the selection of suitable protective gloves, and are not answered in this depth by the relevant product standards, despite their relevance in this context. Answers can be found in the EN ISO/TR 8546 technical report, Hand protection – Guideline for selection and use.

If, after a risk assessment has been conducted, it is concluded that substitutional, technical and organizational measures are not possible or would be insufficient and that protective gloves must be worn, the protective glove suitable for the activity concerned must be selected. Standards are useful for this purpose, as they define performance characteristics, performance levels and protection classes. They serve as a benchmark against which the protection properties and quality can be assessed, thereby enabling products to be compared. This is the case however only if the person making the selection is able to understand this normative information and evaluate its significance for a specific activity.

This is not easy, as the world of standards is complex. In total, the most common protective properties of gloves for different areas of application are described in over 30 standards. Obtaining comprehensive information is very time-consuming.

The DIN NA 075-05-08 AA standards committee, Protective gloves, has recognized this problem and developed a supporting guideline. Owing to the international interest, the task of developing the guideline was passed to the relevant ISO working group. The guideline for the selection and use of protective gloves includes useful information for this purpose, including the most important information from the relevant standards, described in a compact and easily comprehensible form. This enables the product assessments attained with reference to the standards (performance characteristics, performance levels and protection classes) to be interpreted without the need for detailed study of numerous standards.

How is the guideline structured?

The general part of the guideline, Sections 1-3, describes statutory requirements and addresses basic issues concerning the use of protective gloves.

Section 4 describes general principles for selection. Important provisions of Directive 89/656/EEC on the use of PPE (and the German PSA-BV regulation implementing it) are explained in this section with reference to examples. The wearing trials are discussed as a key aspect of selection, and essential elements for performing them systematically are described. The reader is provided with further information on particular topics, such as perspiration under liquid-tight protective gloves and substances in the gloves that may trigger allergies.

Section 5 addresses the usage of protective gloves, in particular the test that the user must perform before using or re-using the gloves for his or her activity.

Section 6 explicitly addresses superiors and sets out their duty to provide training in the use of protective gloves. The most important content of training is stated. Importance is attached to the manufacturer's information, which forms the basis for training. References to this information are made throughout the guideline.

Annexes A to G address the following hazards in detail:

Annex A Mechanical hazards
Annex B Chemical hazards
Annex C Hazards due to micro-organisms
Annex D Thermal hazards: Heat
Annex E Thermal risks: Cold
Annex F Electrostatic requirements
Annex G Hazards due to radioactive contamination and ionizing radiations

These annexes explain what performance characteristics exist and what is indicated by the associated performance levels. The graphical symbols used are shown together with examples of labelling. The annexes contain brief descriptions of the test methods, which enable the performance characteristics, performance levels and protection classes to be interpreted and thus referenced to the activity to be performed.

Additional support is provided in the form of further information relevant to practical use, such as the breakthrough time and maximum duration of wear, or concerning protective gloves with combined properties (e.g. mechanical and chemical).

The guideline has been published in English as ISO/TR 8546:2022-06. The German translation is expected to be published in early 2023.

Joachim Koch, BASF,
OSH professional and expert for personal protective equipment