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Guide to Workplace Safety Gloves

Workplace gloves are an essential piece of Warehouse PPE across a huge range of job types and environments — from working in cold storage to construction, landscaping to medical work. Specific tasks need gloves with particular properties, however.

Someone using tools or manipulating components outdoors will need protection that allows for a good level of dexterity whereas personnel counting bulk stock in a walk-in freezer will benefit more from thermal protection at the expense of dexterity.

Whether you work in an industry where gloves are a mandatory part of your personal protective equipment set-up, or you simply want to provide a more comfortable and safer option for your staff — the right gloves can provide the protection you’re looking for.

Here’s our guide to the different kinds of workplace gloves and the different factors you need to consider before rolling them out to your staff, as well as how CE marked gloves are tested and measured.

What do you need Gloves for?

Work Safety Gloves

Before you buy any workplace glove, you need to consider what you will be using them for, and where. Disposable latex or nitrile gloves are obviously not suited to hard labour or resisting punctures from thorns or branches for example. Equally, if you are looking at a re-usable glove like an armoured or a rigger, you’ll want to consider durability and longevity — if the glove degrades or loses its protective properties fairly rapidly, then you might be putting your staff at risk, as well as wasting money.

The Common Types of Gloves

Nitrile gloves provide great levels of grip and dexterity, whilst also providing some abrasion resistance, depending on the construction and thickness. These gloves are used in medical environments and catering sites (the thin, disposable blue gloves you might have seen doctors and dentists using), as well as by mechanics and garage personnel in a re-usable, nitrile palm form.

Rigger gloves are a hard wearing, general use glove. Originally made with leather palms to help oil rig workers (hence the name) to pull cables and rigging, rigger gloves are now used across a variety of industries including landscaping, construction and loading/unloading. The palm and knuckles are covered with a particularly hard-wearing material, the back of the hand has a more breathable and flexible covering and the cuffs are oversized for added safety.

PVC safety gloves and gauntlets are used when handling oils, fuels, grease and other non-corrosive liquids. The impermeability of the material allows the user to work comfortably, without getting potentially hazardous and difficult to clean substances on their hands and forearms.

Foam latex gloves are manufactured to provide great grip and manual dexterity in wet or dry environments, promoting good health and safety practices without sacrificing comfort or the ability to handle small components and tools.

Armoured gloves are available with a range of specific use cases. Full finger and palm armour will provide protection from thorns or cuts whilst landscaping, armoured mechanics gloves have padding on the back of the glove to protect the knuckles and hands from accidental impacts like bonnets or tools dropping. Make sure to find the right armour for your needs.

Anti-Vibration gloves are designed for personnel who use power tools for sustained periods. These gloves minimise the transfer of vibrations through to the user from tools like chainsaws, jackhammers and drills, reducing strains and allowing for longer work periods.

Classification and Certification for Gloves

Work Safety Gloves

Workplace gloves are available CE marked, meaning that they have been tested against a number of measures and are in compliance with relevant European laws and guidelines.

  • The general requirements for protective gloves are laid out in the EN 420 standard, which works to ensure that the gloves are not harmful to the wearer and are relatively comfortable to wear. Requirements include length, size, dexterity and pH value.
  • Gloves used for protection against mechanical risks are measured against the EN 388 standard, which certifies for protection against abrasions, blade cuts, tears and punctures.
  • Thermal protection gloves use the EN 407 standard, which measures performance against flammability, contact heat, convective heat, radiant heat and resistance to small and large splashes of molten metal.
  • Cold protection gloves are classified under EN 511, measuring performance against convective cold, contact cold and resistance to water penetration.
  • Chemical and Micro-Organism protection is covered by EN 374, which ensures that gloves are resistant to chemical penetration, permeation and degradation.
  • Radioactive contamination and Ionising radiation protection are measured by EN 421, which ensures that gloves are liquid proof and penetration proof, as well as able to pass an air pressure leak test. These gloves must also contain an amount of lead or an equivalent metal to provide further protection.


Richard O'Connor's Headshot

Richard O'Connor is a Director at First Mats. He has deep knowledge in areas like Manufacturing, Warehousing, Marine, and Health & Safety. Richard's insights have been featured in well-known publications such as Bloomberg Business, The Sun, and Reader's Digest. His blend of industry expertise and passion for sharing makes him a sought-after voice in his fields.

Contact Richard


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