A professional racing driver needs them for grip and fire resistance. A food handler needs them for health and hygiene. But the electrician’s work gloves may well stand alone as perhaps the most crucial protective gear across the entire spectrum of industry, serving as the last line of defence from a high-voltage zap that could well be fatal.
Licensed electricians are also mandated by various layers of regulations, which are enforceable by fines and penalties, to wear the right protective gear – and yet the reality on the ground tells us that compliance is an issue. But it’s not just an injury-causing, high-voltage jolt that companies and tradespeople in the electrical industry need to watch out for, but also downtime, damage, legal liability, insurance ramifications and more.
Convinced that it’s a serious issue? It’s time, therefore, to get a better idea of the basic type of work gloves your particular electrical business, industry or application calls for. You may need:
Let’s start with the most common electrical work glove material: rubber. Indeed, most work gloves relevant to electrical work will incorporate this non-conductive material in some way or another, for obvious reasons. But you’ll need to dig deeper into the various rubber glove classes, which are rated for varying maximum voltage exposure.
It’s also common to see electricians wearing leather gloves, adding a tough layer that shields against the cuts and burns that every experienced professional will run across. It may well be, however, that the leather gloves are actually being worn on top of the base rubber glove layer.
Lineman or line worker is, of course, an occupational descriptor rather than a material. But it’s worth adding them here as #3 because it’s not just about shock, burn and cut protection, but also an emphasis on comfort and dexterity for all of that high-risk climbing and lifting work.
With those basics out of the way, it’s time to turn that magnifying glass onto the precise electrical work glove products that are on the market. You need to be looking out for things such as:
Work glove kits subject to regulatory approval will always feature an informative stamp, with references to specific regulations but also a testing date, after which the product should either be re-tested or discarded.
As indicated above, electrical work gloves are regulated – and the way they are approved is through testing. If you’re going to have work gloves re-tested at your instruction, it should be done by a fully accredited lab with calibrated testing equipment.
As also mentioned earlier in this guide, electrical protective gloves are categorised into various classes that are increasingly protective.
No promises, codes or tests, however, are ever a substitute for actual physical safety inspection, ensuring you’re never missing a tear, hole or even rubber cuts and cracking due to the effects of ozone.
The ultimate electrical work glove test is the air test, which is a method involving inflation to check for leaks.
Once you’ve got your gloves in (and around) your hot little hands, you’ll need to read up on proper storage techniques as well, including protection from incorrect folding and exposure to extreme conditions including heat, light, chemicals and moisture. Because with all the right care and diligence in selecting, using, storing and checking your electrical work gloves, you’re ensuring your hands, people and brand are as well protected as possible from the clear hazards of your industry. Good luck!