Which is the best sharps safety glove?

The Institut de recherche Robert-Sauvé en santé et en sécurité du travail (IRSST), established in Québec since 1980, is a scientific research organization well-known for the quality of its work and the expertise of its personnel. It has just released an important research assessment, Evaluation of Manual Dexterity, Tactile Sensitivity and Comfort When Wearing Needlestick-Resistant Gloves.

This new study from the IRSST is an exploratory evaluation of manual dexterity, tactile sensitivity and comfort when needlestick-resistant gloves are worn on the job.

Police officers, correctional service officers, garbage collectors and municipal gardeners are very concerned about the risks of injuries from hypodermic needles, which could expose them to potentially contaminated blood and the risk of contracting blood-borne infections such as human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis B and C. Workers in these occupations therefore need to wear gloves that are not only needlestick resistant, but also provide adequate manual dexterity and tactile sensitivity. As there are relatively few models of needlestick-resistant gloves on the market, the choice is very limited. The purpose of this study was to conduct an exploratory evaluation of manual dexterity, tactile sensitivity and comfort when needlestick-resistant gloves are worn on the job.

Different glove models were tested by three groups of workers: police officers, garbage collectors and gardeners. Volunteers from each group performed typical work tasks and then filled in a perception questionnaire to give their opinions of the gloves in terms of dexterity, tactile sensitivity and comfort. Six police officers (three for pistol shooting and three for defence/restraint and control) tested five models of glove, two garbage collectors tested four models and two gardeners tested three models. The gloves tested were made by HexArmor (which uses SuperFabric®) and Warwick Mills (which uses TurtleSkin®). The scope of the study was relatively limited, as only a small number of subjects were involved.

None of the gloves tested by police officers was deemed satisfactory for pistol shooting, which demands fine dexterity and good tactile sensitivity for the delicate handling required. Model WM 006 was rated highest, however. For defence and for restraint and control techniques, models HX 9005 and WM 006 were judged to have the best potential, with the other models proving too slippery for handling the various types of police equipment. The garbage collectors deemed model HX 9005 to provide the best manual dexterity and the best tactile sensitivity. The gardeners rated models HX 9005 and HX 4042 the highest, but they aren’t waterproof, which is essential for gardening.

Generally speaking, the most flexible models—HX 9005 (only one layer of SuperFabric® in the palm) and WM 006—offer the greatest dexterity and tactile sensitivity and are the most comfortable, but they are less resistant to hypodermic needlesticks. With most of the gloves tested, folds tended to form in the palm when wearers closed their hands, causing skin irritation and discomfort and making it harder to perform manual tasks. In addition, the glove stitching proved to be quite uncomfortable and reduced tactile sensitivity.

Read the full report at http://www.irsst.qc.ca/en/-irsst-publication-worker-evaluation-manual-dexterity-r-803.html


Too often, sharps resistant gloves are not worn or worn, and removed/stored, incorrectly. Cheaper gloves may seem like a good buy but may be permeable to fluids and have hard raised and uneven stitch lines that can break skin – a recipe for disaster.

With commercial pressures and misguided attempts at cost containment limiting timely replacement of gloves, and inadequate training and supervision conspiring together to reduce the standard or frequency of glove use, other strategies must be advanced in order to improve the overall standard of glove use.

Improving glove comfort is an important contribution to this challenge. Products should be evaluated and assessed, improved and, if necessary replaced with a better product. Independent comparative studies of the kind reported here make an invaluable contribution to the overall debate.





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