Yvette Staples
Marketing & Communications Manager – Health & Safety Industry.

How to Compare Different Types of Gloves in terms of Thickness, Quality and Strength

Protection of workers is essential. We only have one set of hands that we rely on daily. It is vital to have the best hand protection.

However, when comparing all the different types of hand protection, it can be hard to tell the difference and find the best fit for your purpose. Furthermore, most hand protection companies don’t explain all the complex variables that go into the creation of a glove. They use industry jargon and expect you to know what they are talking about.

The Glove Company wants to clear the air around gloves and hand protection. We will explain the industry jargon and provide you with a helpful guide to remember when trying to find the best gloves for your needs. Every situation and glove is different though, so if you have the smallest amount of doubt that the glove you are using is not suited to your use, then please reach out to our Glove Experts, who are specially trained to find the best fit for every situation.

 

Our hands can end up in all sorts of weird and hazardous situations throughout our lifetime. This means a glove that may suit your needs for one job will not provide adequate protection for another task.

Furthermore, every company’s spec sheets and chemical-resistant sheets have different information on them, making it very hard to physically compare two different gloves.

Generally speaking, in the safety industry, everyone automatically associates thickness with quality and strength. However, when it comes to gloves, especially disposable gloves, this is just not the case. Thickness can be an indicator but is not the principle driver.

The thickness of a glove is not a reliable indicator of strength, quality, or puncture and chemical resistance.

For disposable gloves in particular, it is easy to make a glove ‘thick’ however, if it’s made cheaply, or by someone who does not understand the complexities of glove manufacturing, the ‘thick’ glove will still easily snap or snag, when pulled or punctured.  

The only way to tell if a glove is of higher quality is to talk directly to a glove specialist and physically compare / trial the gloves.

The best thing to do is call and have a chat to a Glove Expert, they will more than likely figure out which glove is the best for you, and then they will find the best way for you to trial the gloves. Most glove manufacturers are understanding of the fact that the best way for you to find the best protection is to talk to a specialist and trial the gloves, as every work, task or job is different. 

Once you get your hands on the gloves, put them to the test, and it will quickly become apparent, which is the better glove.

Physically comparing and testing gloves is the best way to find the perfect fit for you. However, sometimes, you may need to compare gloves using technical specs and /or certifications.

If you do, there are a few glove expert insider tips and tricks that will enable you to make an accurate comparison.

Comparing the Thickness of Gloves and Disposable Gloves

You can measure thickness in a variety of different ways. In America, they use mils (A “mil” is a unit of thickness equal to one-thousandth of an inch (.001 inch)). For the rest of the world, we use Micro Meters (Microns). A unit of length equal to one-millionth of a metre.

It is important to note when measuring the thickness of a glove, that depending on which part of the glove is measured, there can be completely different results. For example, a thickness measurement taken from the fingertips will always be a lot thicker than a measurement taken on the palm of the glove.

Best practice in the glove industry is to take the measurement from the palm of the glove. However, not everyone does, and this reason is partly why comparing gloves using only spec sheets does not work. You need to get your hands physically on the gloves and feel the difference for yourself.

 Measuring disposable gloves using mils and microns

How to Measure and Compare Glove Strength

There is no standardised test for measuring and comparing the strength of a glove. Strength has many different definitions depending on the context. Because you need gloves in so many diverse workplaces for a variety of different protection needs, it is hard to apply one blanket rule to determine the ‘strength’ of a glove. That is why the EN standards were created. The EN standards test for a variety of specific hazards that we can use as a guide to determine how ‘strong’ a glove is. The best indicators for the strength of a glove are tests for; Puncture resistance, Tear resistance, Abrasion resistance, Cut resistance, and Chemical resistance.   

 

EN388 was created for Mechanical Risks. Mechanical Risks are defined as; puncture, tear, abrasion and cut resistance of the gloves.

How to measure and compare glove puncture, tear, abrasion and cut resistance. The basic definition of these tests without the industry jargon is;

  • Puncture resistance is how well the glove withstands puncture hazards. The higher the number, the more resistant. 
  • Tear resistance is how likely the glove is to tear when it comes into contact with snags or pull hazards. The higher the number, the more resistant the glove will be.
  • Abrasion resistance is how well the glove withstands abrasion hazards. The higher the number, the more resistant to a course surface the glove is.
  • Cut resistance is how well the glove withstands sharp cut hazards. The higher the number, the more resistant to sharp edges, materials, knives, etc. the glove will be. 

Mechanical hazards are a great way of comparing the “strength” of a glove. However, another excellent comparison tool is Chemical Resistance measured by the EN374 / AS/NZS 2161.10.1 standard.

How to Measure and Compare Gloves Chemical Resistance

The EN374 Standard compares chemical resistance using letters that represent common chemicals. 

If a glove passes for the letter A, which is Methanol, then we can also conclude that the glove should have good resistance to other chemicals that are similar to Methanol. To learn more about which letter stands for what chemical check out our glove ratings page.

Essentially you can compare chemical resistance between gloves using EN374, comparing what letters each glove has been awarded. The more letters, the more resistant and thus stronger the glove is to chemical hazards.

To sum up, the best way to compare gloves in terms of thickness, quality and strength is to physically trial them out. If that is not possible, then you should use EN / AS/ NZS Standards. Remember there is nothing more important than your safety, so always check that the manufacturer has had the tests conducted by an independent third party. Unfortunately, many manufacturers do testing in-house, and the results can be biassed or inaccurate, which means your hand safety will be compromised. If you have any doubt about your current hand safety, then reach out to our Glove Experts who will point you to the right safety solution. 

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