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What Are Safety Gloves? | A Brief Guide

What Are Safety Gloves? | A Brief Guide

What Are Safety Gloves?

Safety gloves are a piece of personal protective equipment designed to protect your hands. There are many types of safety gloves depending on the environment and job you'll be doing.

When you think of personal protective equipment, safety gloves may not be the first item that comes to mind, however that is a line of thinking you may want to reconsider. When it comes to protecting your hands, safety gloves are your first line of defense.

Workers who use their hands—especially in more hazardous professions like construction, utilities, maintenance, and manufacturing—exposure to lacerations, punctures, fractures, and burns is a risk you can’t afford to take.

And while you may agree with the importance of safety gloves, statistics show that many employers and/or workers are not yet taking hand injuries seriously enough. 23 percent of work-related injuries involve the hands or fingers.

The good news is hand injuries are considered the No. 1 preventable injury in the workplace. We’ve pulled together a few reasons why doing so is in your best interest.

Why Should I Wear Safety Gloves?

Safety gloves work to protect your hands and wrists from a long list of potential injuries like burns, cuts and abrasions, puncture wounds, fractured and broken bones, and from being crushed.

These unfortunate, but preventable injuries can lead to serious and in some cases irreparable impairment including nerve damage, carpal tunnel syndrome, and even amputation.

Workers should own safety gloves if for no other reason than to avoid the obvious pain and suffering associated with accidents involving the hand. Not to mention the inconvenience and expense of visiting an ER or MASH unit and then dealing with follow-up appointments during what could easily become a long and uncomfortable recovery period.

Employers should encourage workers to wear appropriate safety gloves to protect their hands as well as minimize schedule holdups and avoid employee absence (the median days away from work with a hand injury in 2020 was six days). 

What Are the Benefits of Wearing Safety Gloves

We’ve talked about the reasons why you should wear safety gloves, citing both the dangers and resulting injuries that can occur when workers are using dangerous equipment. Now let’s talk about why wearing gloves is beneficial.

No matter how careful you may think you’re being, workers who have not been properly trained or have no other protection from unforeseen incidents are putting themselves in harm’s way.

By wearing the proper PPE (aka safety gloves), receiving training, making sure equipment is not defective, and securing your work area the likelihood of injury greatly decreases.

Making workers’ hand safety a priority is so critical no matter the industry or the job at hand.

Benefits include:

  • Protection from infection and contamination
  • Protection from burns and electrical dangers
  • Protection from cuts, abrasions, and punctures
  • Protection from fractures and amputations

What does this mean for employers and workers?

  • Improved productivity
  • Improved health of employees
  • Safer and more secure work environment
  • Reduced workplace injuries and absences
  • Reduced staff turnover
  • Improved Reduced fines and legal fees 

Types of Safety Gloves for Different Industries

Not all industries are alike.

Hand injuries occur across the board from construction to medical to agriculture to the hospitality field such as chefs, servers, canning, laboratories, and pharmaceutical. You name it, and you’ll pretty much find a need for safety gloves no matter the industry.

Still, the common thread remains making worker safety, including hand safety, a priority. One consideration is to become familiar with the different types of safety gloves available to you.

We’re breaking down the types of gloves that have been proven to minimize or prevent hand injuries across a variety of industries like those listed above.

Leather. Leather is a timeless choice when it comes to providing worker hand protection. Characteristics of leather gloves include comfort, dexterity, cut-resistance, grip control, and puncture resistance. The most popular types of leather used for work gloves are goatskin, cowhide, deerskin, and pigskin.

While goatskin is often the preferred type of leather for work gloves, cowhide tends to top the list because it’s generally more affordable, has a reputation for being comfortable and long lasting with a good track record for abrasion resistance. Shop leather gloves now.

Kevlar. Kevlar gloves have a great reputation when it comes to being flame resistant, making them a popular choice for those who work with high levels of heat like welders. Not only are they known for protecting hands from burns, but they also shine when it comes to preventing cuts and abrasions. Thanks to the tightness of the weave and the strength of the fibers, Kevlar safety gloves are the go-to for workers who use sharp machinery and tools as well as instruments like knives. Shop Kevlar gloves now.

Nitrile. Somewhat of a safety glove superhero, nitrile is known to be puncture resistant, waterproof, grease and oilproof, as well as chemical resistant to various dangerous chemicals and substances which is why they tend to rank high for those working in laboratories or the medical field. Shop nitrile gloves now. 

Butyl Rubber. Another choice for people working in laboratories, the medical field, or other industries involving the use of chemicals is butyl rubber. This synthetic rubber safety glove protects hands from a variety of potentially dangerous substances like alcohols, peroxide, and acids. In addition to protecting your hands, these gloves can be cost saving as well and can be used repeatedly so long as the user takes care of them and remembers to rinse off after use.

Cotton/Fabric. Cotton is a favorite when it comes to fabric thanks to a reputation of being breathable, strong, and comfortable. Cotton safety gloves pass the test with flying colors when it comes to keeping hands clean, protecting against abrasions, and reducing and absorbing perspiration. They also get good grades for affordability, being easy to launder, and lowering the carbon footprint. While cotton and fabric gloves in general offer protection from light scratches, we do not recommend these for workers handling liquids, chemicals, or sharp objects. Shop cotton fabric gloves now.

Coated Fabric. Similar to fabric safety gloves, coated fabric serves as a general-purpose glove with some added protection against certain chemical substances. Typically made from cotton or other fabric, coated fabric protects against dirt and mild abrasions. What separates these safety gloves from regular fabric gloves is they tend to be more slip resistant making them a great choice for handing wire and laboratory containers. Shop coated fabric gloves now.

Latex. Latex is known for providing a snugger fit offering greater movement, dexterity, and comfort for a variety of tasks that may pose a risk to hands. In particular, latex is a great protectant to punctures and tears as well as some bacteria and viruses (although nitrile gloves rank higher when it comes to the best protection against chemicals). Medical workers like doctors, nurses, and technicians like latex gloves because they help to keep hands clean and reduce the chance of contracting germs that result in sickness (and in some cases death).

An added benefit is that they tend to be more affordable than some other safety gloves. Shop latex gloves now. 

How Do I Choose the Right Safety Gloves?

Now that you know what safety gloves are and why you need them, let’s talk about how to choose the right pair of work gloves for the job at hand. Just like other types of PPE, there is no one glove that will protect you from all hazards.

It’s important to consider:

  • Industry/Need 
  • Material Size/Fit 
  • Protection Requirements

Make sure your glove fits right before you buy.


Price. Gloves come in a range of from the one-and- done variety, to reusable gloves, to higher-quality built-to-last safety gloves. Usage, material, and protection requirements play a huge part in the cost of safety gloves.

It’s important to note that hand safety is an investment worth making not only to protect workers valuable hands from dangers that can lead to serious accidents and injuries, but to ensure jobs remain on schedule to avoid costly delays.


Are all safety gloves the same?

Safety gloves are not all the same. Safety gloves protect against a wide range of hazards dependent upon occupational hand injuries that occur within different industries. Depending on your needs, safety gloves can protect against cuts, burns, and punctures. They can be made from different fabrics like leather, fabric, rubber, and Kevlar among others. Some gloves include insulation specifically to protect against electrical hazards. Gloves vary in dexterity, thickness, size and length.

What are nitrile gloves used for?

While oftentimes found in medical settings, nitrile gloves can be used by workers handling potentially hazardous and corrosive chemicals in laboratories and research facilities. Made of synthetic rubber, unlike latex gloves, nitrile gloves resist punctures and offer a higher level of security against stronger chemicals.

Are safety gloves dangerous?

Like any other type of PPE, wearing the right type of safety glove for the job can make all the difference. Always match the type of glove you use with the type of work you will be performing. While meant to protect and prevent serious accidents and injuries from occurring, workers should recognize that when worn improperly, safety gloves are a form of loose clothing and can pose a danger when working with machinery or hot elements should skin become exposed.

Why do I need cut-resistant safety gloves?

While the reason to wear cut resistant gloves may seem apparent in the name itself, many workers sustain cuts and abrasions each year underestimating their chance of getting injured on the job. If you work around machinery, tools, or handle sharp metal objects for a living, wearing cut-resistant safety gloves will help you to keep your hands safe from unexpected cuts, scrapes, and abrasions that can lead to serious injury and even death.

What is a cool grip glove?

With an ANSI Level 4 for heat resistance, these high-functioning gloves by Superior Glove™ have an over achiever mentality offering three high-performance materials (Kevlar, SilaChlor, and Temperbloc) to protect hands from high heat and open flames, meaning they will not melt or drip on exposure. An ANSI Level A3 cut resistance and ANSI Level 4 puncture resistance means your hands stay safer around sharp machinery and tools.

What are drivers gloves used for?

While the thought of drivers gloves may conjure up images of speed racers, these gloves have a lot more to offer. Driving gloves are used as an insulator to keep your hands warm by sealing in your body’s natural heat. They also help workers on the go to minimize hand fatigue by reducing vibration from the steering wheel, which over time can improve your safety on the road. Truck drivers, uber drivers, and delivery drivers can all benefit from having greater control, reducing hand strain, and enjoying an added bit of comfort whether the weather is too hot or too cold.