The 8 (and more) work glove materials you should know about

Five fingers and the right fit.  Then your new work gloves will be good to go … right?

Not quite.  In fact, the list of different work glove types is as long as your entire arm.  And according to Occupational Health & Safety magazine, a list that long is absolutely necessary, with hand injuries accounting for up to 6 out of every 10 workplace incidents costing companies over $7000 per injury on average.

There are work gloves so you don’t leave a fingerprint.  Gloves to dodge the odd jagged edge.  Gloves to guard against serious head or cold.  Gloves for a better grip.  Gloves to prevent crushing injuries.  And so, so much more.

But today, we’re not looking just at all those work glove types.  More specifically, we’re zooming in on the various kinds of work glove materials.  And while our list may not be exhaustive, it’s certainly a good roundup of the most common materials the work gloves you need will be made of.  So let’s get stuck right in:

1. Leather

We could have started with cotton, but the original work glove was actually almost certainly made of leather – for all of those strong, flexible, protective and mouldable qualities that we’ve all known about for generations.  Cow hide is great for resistance to both heat and water, while pig’s leather will breathe a little better.  Goat’s leather is good when dexterity is a must, while deer skin is even more comfortable.

2. Synthetic leather

It’s not just ethical concerns that boosted the prominence of synthetic leather gloves, but also enhanced qualities for added protection, flexibility, durability and water repellency.

3. Cotton

You might not think cotton gloves are great for your tasks at work.  But some work tasks require a comfortable, breathable liner glove.  Sometimes, dexterity and comfort are more important than extreme protection.  At other times, what you’re protecting is not your hands but what you’re working on – and a million other uses for cotton gloves at work are deployed throughout the world of industry every single day.

4. Polyester

Then there’s the world of synthetic fibres, with polyester leading the charge.  It’s strong, flexible and won’t shrink, and it offers good resistance to minor abrasions and cuts.

5. Acrylic

Another leading synthetic fibre is acrylic, which – similar to wool – is great for its thermal qualities whilst remaining durable.

6. PVC

But now, let’s dive into the world of the more durable work glove types – starting with PVC.  You know it as a plastic, but when blended for gloves makes for a durable and chemical-resistant material that performs in wet and dry settings.

7. Latex/nitrile

Not a plastic, but actually a natural rubber that gives its users a firm grip with elasticity and durability when in glove form.  You know it best from those disposable latex gloves used in the medical and food industries, but increasingly these industries are switching over to the safer material of nitrile.

8. Neoprene

Otherwise known as wetsuit material, neoprene work gloves are great for their thermal qualities, preventing rash, repelling acids and oils and performing with flexibility and durability.

We’d also like to give honourable mentions to nylon as well as kevlar, with its sensational levels of protection against just about everything.  And what also can’t be forgotten are all of those work glove coating materials, including polyurethane, vinyl and others.  When making your choice of appropriate work gloves, also remember to consider fit, design, linings, brand and pricing as well, and always ask an expert if you need a little guidance.

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