Cut Resistant Gloves…Make Safety Glove Ratings Easy to Understand

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Cut Resistant Gloves How Are These Products Rated ?

For most glove buyers the key question is how do I reduce injury rates at work. Common sense tells you that cut resistant gloves should be part of your safety program.  But which cut gloves do you buy? There must be a PPE standard for cut gloves.  Unfortunately Buyers find PPE standards difficult to use and these standards are not very helpful with glove selection. We are going to try to boil down this standards and ratings question in to just the key points.

World wide there are 2 important safety glove rating systems:

  • In Europe and many parts of the world the EN388 standard is used
  • In the US the newer standard ANSI/ISEA 105-2011 is used

EN388 and ANSI/ISEA 105 are both mechanical protection standards, they cover:

  • Cut resistance to blades moving slowly,  expressed as levels 1-5  with 5 the highest 
  • Puncture Resistance to large blunt rods,  expressed as levels 1-4  with 4 the highest
  • Abrasion Resistance
  • Tear Resistance

The test methods and levels are not the same for the two systems and some care needs to be used to make sure that you are looking a gloves in the same system ANSI to ANSI and EN388 to EN388. Cut resistant glove ratings for ANSI/ISEA are somewhat higher than the same rating levels for EN388.   So use the ANSI/ISEA system to keep things simple.

What is NOT Important in Safety Glove Ratings

So whats important about these standards,  the easy part is what is NOT important: the Abrasion Resistance and the Tear Resistance are low priority for most users.  It is very unusual that your glove performance will be affected by these ratings. If abrasion and tear are important to your application you are already aware of how to use these 2 rating factors for your needs.

This gets us down to 2 key factors for most users, Cut Resistance and Puncture Resistance, we should take these two rating factors one at a time.

Buy Cut 5 Rated Gloves and Reduce Your Injury Rates

Technology for cut resistant gloves has come a long way in 20 years.  At one time this type of PPE was dominated by Kevlar fiber and Spectra fiber in knit gloves.  Knitting enough Kevlar or Spectra into the glove to deliver cut 5 made for a quite bulky thick product. Now there are more advanced composite materials like TurtleSkin CP that is used as a thin layer in very light glove. These materials give the highest cut level 5 performance with very little or no loss of dexterity.

For users of cut resistant gloves it is very difficult to know what cut level is needed for a particular task.  At this point advanced cut level 5 gloves are thin and have great dexterity.  Go ahead and reduce your injury rates and buy the maximum level of cut resistance.  Advanced glove technology makes cut 5 an easy decision.

If you just cant get enough of this PPE technology stuff see more information in the white paper on Dynamic Cut and Puncture.

Lets Try to Make Some Sense of Safety Glove Puncture Resistance Ratings

The second of the 2 most important factors is puncture. Most hand injuries are a combination of cut and puncture so puncture resistance is a factor in reduction of lost time accidents. Unfortunately the ANSI and EN388 puncture test uses a very large diameter 0.2″ or 5mm test probe. Most users of cut resistant gloves are really more concerned about  smaller sharper threats.  Most customers talk about  sheet metal slivers, small wires, glass shards, wood splinters and even hypodermic needles as the important puncture threats. The EN388 and ANSI/ISEA105 puncture rating does not help you with these theats.  Some suppliers (TurtleSkin and others) use the ASTM F1342 -05(2013) because this test has the small sharp probe and hypo as test options.

If you feel that puncture is part of your injury history you can get more information on protection from our Puncture White Paper.  The second alternative is to buy gloves that are rated for ASTMF1342-05 at 200-700 grams of Hypodermic Needle Puncture and you know your are covered.

One last thought on PPE :

“Buy what you will WEAR and then WEAR what you buy”

“Cut resistant gloves don’t prevent injuries in your pocket.”

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Infection Control PPE, Textile Evaluation Using Pathogen Contact Transfer Testing

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High Speed Decontamination for Infection Control PPE Applications

New antimicrobial textiles have very fast rates of self decontamination. Chlorine based systems can achieve 99.9% decon in 30 sec with model pathogens.  From the standpoint of Heathcare, users need to know that their PPE textile materials are free of infectious particles. These high speed decon speeds are very helpful for PPE applications.  The contamination state of textiles in infection control PPE affects doffing and disposal behavior. When the textile self-decontaminates in 30 seconds the doffing and disposal processes are lower risk.

Slash Zone PPE Material Testing 

Measurement of textiles for pathogen contamination can be done using various test methods. AATCC Method 100 is the most common test used in the US. There are closely related methods used in Europe and Asia. Method 100 uses a pathogen challenge liquid, applied so it saturates the textile and after hold time. there is a liquid extraction from the textile used to measure the level of self-decontamination. This saturation challenge and liquid extraction assay are appropriate for bedding, wipes, dressings and other textiles used in direct contact with patients and infectious fluids. In infection control PPE, the splash zone materials are impermeable membranes like gloves or membrane textile laminates used in aprons and gowns.

Contact Transfer PPE Materials

In infection control PPE ensembles, there are textile components that are not in the splash zone in patient care and are not subject to saturation by infectious fluids. A good example is an inner glove worn to provide mechanical protection from barrier glove failure. The BioTecT self-decontaminating textile glove is not used in patient contact or exposed to contact with splash risk. In this configuration the contamination risk to the inner BioTecT glove is from pin hole failures in the outer glove or doffing related contamination when the outer gloves are removed. A useful distinction in the infection control PPE ensemble should be made between Splash Zone materials and Contact Transfer Zone materials.

Contact Transfer Zone Material Testing 

In order to evaluate these challenge conditions, a related test was developed which uses a plated liquid pathogen challenge on agar and then after hold time, a contact transfer is made to a second agar plate to measure the level of self-decontamination. Modified Method 100 for Contact Transfer Challenge Test (CTC Test)  is the new test designation. This draft test method is attached to this blog post. This method is much more consistent with the pathogen challenges that Contact Transfer Zone materials are subject to in the PPE ensemble.  Infection control PPE textile layers are used behind a barrier membrane and can be evaluated with the CTC test method. An important aspect of the CTC method is the opportunity to run the assay at speed. Because Contact Challenge and Contact Transfer assay can be preformed in seconds, the rate of self-decon can be evaluated for exposure times to 15-30 seconds. The method 100 assay is limited to exposure times greater than 10 minutes.  Using CTC testing textile contamination state can be evaluated for activities times that include doffing and donning speeds. Knowing that the textile layers in the Infection Control PPE Ensemble have completed their self decon process improves the safety of PPE systems.
If you want to test the high speed self decon BioTecT glove follow the link.
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Infection Control PPE… a Missing Element: Self-Decontaminating Textiles

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Ebola risk has high lighted Infection Control PPE technology
There are currently 3 primary materials used in Infection Control PPE:
  • Barrier membranes (some with and some without textile layers)
  • Filter textiles
  • Basic textiles
  • Missing: Self Decontaminating non-barrier textiles 

Barrier Membranes

The barrier membrane textiles are use naturally to prevent liquids from penetrating the Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) ensemble. The barriers must be competent to prevent liquids containing viral particles from penetrating. The ASTM 1671 is the most common test criteria for these materials. Under the 1671 criteria the membranes must be capable of preventing viral penetration at 2psi or 54 inches of water pressure. As a result of this rigorous requirement the barrier membranes used in healthcare have limited moisture vapor transport. With low moisture transport from the ensemble the ever present heat stress risk in PPE becomes a serious issue in “Ebola type”  treatment environments. The reason is in high infection risk Ebola treatment we currently have high PPE coverage using barrier textile materials.  Cooler work environments are helpful never the less work sessions wearing high coverage barrier garments must be short, 2 hours or less in many situations. Healthcare workers must move ~150 watts of heat in order to maintain core body temperatures. As barrier membrane coverage area goes up workers in PPE find that they are not able to move there metabolic heat out of the ensemble. CDC and NIOSH are working new standards for Healthcare PPE materials. 

Filter textiles

Filter textiles are well accepted in healthcare, the N95 mask is a good example. This air filter requirement defines a textile that traps 95 of small <1 micron particles in the respiratory air flows. The limit of 95% is based on the need to limit respiratory effort. If the capture rate is higher the filter creates unacceptable restrictions to breathing because of the pressure drop over the filter materials. battery powered air pumps can be used to overcome the pressure drop from higher capacity filters. This down side is these powered full face filter units are not disposable and must be decontaminated manually after each use. The CDC Blog has more details on filter performance and filtration mechanisms 
Basic cotton and poly-cotton textiles are ubiquitous in Healthcare. Scrubs and many other garments are used in PPE, hoods and other articles. Basic textile layers are not considered a key part of the infection control system

Self Decontaminating Textiles In the Infection Control PPE Ensemble

Self-Decontaminating Non-Barrier Textile enable some really important new healthcare PPE solutions. The use of Self-Decon materials improves the thermal transfer of the PPE system. A significant reduction in heat stress can be achieved. The kill speed of the material in decontamination is important. We have now achieved 99.9% pathogen kill in 30 seconds and 99.99% in 90 seconds using a contact transfer test method. So modern Self-Decontaminating textiles can be used as part of the PPE system on high risk services. At the same time reducing the heat load for the healthcare worker.  Like all PPE materials there are limits to the application of Self-Decon Textiles. They should not be used in the splash zone on the front and arms of the ensemble.  Like the N95 mask the Self-Decon material can be used where splash risk is low.   This provides the opportunity to build infection control PPE ensembles that have 50-60% of the area with good moisture vapor transport for lower heat stress. At the same time these materials provides a lower stress garment the safety of healthcare workers are not compromised because the material provides pathogen self-decon in 30 sec.
Take a look at our self-decontaminating gloves for a good introduction to how these textile tools can help solve your infection control challenges.

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