Protector gloves have two primary purposes:
Historically, ASTM F696 Standard Specification for Leather Protectors for Rubber Insulating Gloves and Mittens has been used for protector gloves. OSHA requires “protector gloves” be worn for arc flash protection and lists ASTM F696 as a standard, but it is assumed that OSHA would also allow other options which meet the requirements above. OSHA only allows rubber gloves to be worn alone in certain controlled situations and when there is really no other option.
The issue with leather has always been that it provides limited puncture resistance and relatively poor cut resistance. To help with this situation, gloves in ASTM F696 have required protector gloves to be leather (“shall be grain cowhide, buffed grain cowhide, grain deerskin, grain pigskin, grain horsehide, or grain goatskin”) but also allows “grain sheepskin and grain capeskin” for Class 0 and 00. The thickness of the glove is defined for each of the classes in the standard, but recent testing shows that some leathers which meet this standard provide cut and puncture resistance of Level 0 using ANSI 105-defined test methods.
The ASTM F18 committee has been in process for a few years to write a new standard to allow for non-leather or combination materials. The proposed standard at the time of this writing is proposed to be titled “Standard Specification for Leather and other Material Protectors for Rubber Insulating Gloves and Mittens.”
This standard will define several performance-based criteria to meet or exceed leather in practice and testing. Cut, puncture, arc flash performance, abrasion and chemical resistance can all be required using the test methods and levels defined in ANSI 105.
Before this standard is even final, companies are already exceeding the ASTM F696 standard by several methods. To increase cut resistance or warmth, companies have been using liners to the rubber gloves or lining the protector glove. Many have added Kevlar or Twaron knit to line the protector to increase cut and puncture resistance beyond a standard leather glove.
Some companies have been using ASTM F2675-13 Standard Test Method for Determining Arc Ratings of Hand Protective Products Developed and Used for Electrical Arc Flash Protection to determine the arc rating of the leather protector alone or in combination with the rubber insulating glove. While arc ratings are not required for F696 or D120 gloves, the standards do not prohibit such testing.
Several companies have now upgraded to Kevlar thread, which has been shown to add protective value to leather gloves. Originally, the ASTM F696 standard required nylon or polyester thread for strength; it was also thought these threads would allow opening of the leather in an accident which would increase protection by relieving pressure. This however, has been shown not to be the case; Kevlar, a much stronger thread, would not break open and proved in investigation to be more protective to the wearer.
Other upgrades of gloves now on the market include the addition of grips (like PowerGripz brand) to allow better gripping of tools in wet conditions. While wet conditions are not ideal for line work, they are frequently encountered in storm restoration work and troubleshooting. As long as the leather is in place and the coating or sewn-on grip does not abrade the rubber glove or add to risk of ignition of the glove, it should be within the intent of the current standard and definitely allowed by the proposed multi-material protector glove standard.
If your hazard assessment for an electrical task includes a shock hazard, ASTM D120 gloves are still your ONLY option with or without a leather protector (see OSHA, NFPA 70E and ASTM F496 requirements for protector gloves).
Arc rated gloves without rubber insulating gloves can be used for the following:
When selecting gloves for arc flash exposures, two considerations must be followed:
These arc-rated multi-hazard protection gloves for cut, chemical and arc flash may be in your safety program soon. These protectors might even get an upgrade to have better grip, cut and arc flash protection in a thinner package than before.
Hugh Hoagland, is Sr. Managing Partner of e-Hazard, a leading provider of arc flash, and electrical safety training, and Sr. Consultant at ArcWear, the leading testing company for arc rated materials and PPE.