Dexterity the Silent Factor in Glove Specification

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We have EN388 and we have ANSI glove testing. The results from these Cut, Puncture, Abrasion and Tear tests certainly provide part of the picture on glove performance.   Some thing is missing however. With gloves the elephant in the room is dexterity. It makes no difference how protective a glove is if it gets in your way of doing your job.  At TurtleSkin we have been making and selling needle and cut resistant glove for many years.  We have learned by customer purchasing patterns that dexterity is the key to glove acceptance.  Almost every day we hear much the same perspective from Safety Officers: “your gloves have the protection e need but will my team wear the gloves?” So no one says anything about Dexterity but all our customers want gloves that are just that— dexterous.

The problem is that there are only a few tests for dexterity. There is the EN420 Pin Test, The ASTM 2010 pegboard test and there is the Minnesota Dexterity Test. So there are various methods  to choose from to make measurements and evaluate the performance of the gloves. Given that we have methods to test dexterity why don’t we use this data as part of a standard requirement for glove specification? The answer is two part.  Part of the problem is the data from these tests is not simple for customers and Safety  Officers to relate to real work requirements. The second part of the problem is, these tests are based on using human subjects to run the Pin Pickup Test,  Pin Board Testing and the Minnesota Dexterity Tests. In our own program we have worked with these tests and it takes great deal of care to produce repeatable data that is reliable.  When you use human subjects the test subjects introduce variability into the test results.

What are our options?

At TurtleSkin we make a modest proposal. There are two pieces of data that can be used and that are simple to interpret.  The first test is a simple caliper measurement of  the thickness of the glove finger tips. The second test  is a machine based test to measure the stiffness of the glove material, ASTM D4032 for measurement of textile bending stiffness. The sensation and tactile performance of a glove is directly related to the thickness of material at the finger tips. It is obvious that the bending stiffness of the gloves is directly related to their dexterity.   These two tests can easily be related to glove performance and the results are easy to understand.

Thinner gloves with lower bending stiffness have higher dexterity.

We have demonstrated the the value of these the Thickness-Stiffness tests by correlating the results with human subject tests and we get good agreement. The proposed Thickness/Stiffness tests have the advantage that they are easy for labs to run and thus the results can be compared even when performed by different labs. The best way to start your own dexterity specification program is to test gloves that you know your team have accepted as easy to work with. This established your baseline.  Send us 2 pairs of your gloves and we will test them for you and send you the results or test them in your own lab and you can use this data as a starting point for glove objective data driven purchasing.

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