Hand Protection

Hand Protection

Working in a lab means handling substances that just aren’t good for your health.  These might be infectious agents or chemicals.  In both cases, the risk may be very low, extremely lethal, or anything in between.

The most common vectors for entry into your body are through the skin, via inhalation, or by ingestion.  We will be focusing here on the skin vector, and specifically, on hand protection.

In all the years I have been dealing with labs, I can only think of one instance in which actual testing was performed to see if the gloves they were using would actually protect the wearer!



Types of Gloves 

1 Cotton and fabric gloves: These can keep hands clean and protect against abrasions, but may not be strong enough to handle work with rough or sharp materials.


2 Coated Fabric Gloves: This type of glove can provide protection against some moderate concentrated chemicals. They can be used in laboratory work, provided they are able to protect against the specific chemical being handled.


3 Rubber, plastic or syntheric gloves: These types of glove can be used when cleaning or working with oils, solvents and other chemicals.


4 Leather Gloves: These should be used when welding, as the leather can resist sparks and moderate heat. The risk of cuts and abrasions also can be minimized by wearing leather gloves.


5 Aluminized gloves: These gloves are recommended for welding, furnace and foundry work, as they provide reflective and insulating protection.


6 Vinyl gloves: These gloves are recommended for handling food.


7 Kevlar Gloves: These have a wide variety of industrial applications. They are cut- and abrasion-resistant and provide protection against both heat and cold.


8 Chemical/liquid-resistant gloves: Several types of gloves help protect against specific chemicals:

  • Butyl rubber gloves: nitric acid, sulfuric acid, hydrochloric acid and peroxide
  • Natural latex/rubber gloves: water solutions or acids, alkalis, salts, and ketones
  • Neoprene gloves: hydraulic fluids, gasoline, alcohols and organic acids
  • Nitrile rubber gloves: chlorinated solvents
  • Norfoil:  most hazardous chemicals.
  • Viton:  chlorinated and aromatic solvents but not ketones
  • Polyvinyl chloride:  acids, bases, oils, fats, peroxides and amines
  • Polyvinyl alcohol:  aromatic and chlorinated solutions
  • Cryogenic:  very cold materials but not chemicals.



Here are a few resources that I rely on:

Guide to Comparing Safety Gloves At this site there is a nice downloadable guide to comparing safety gloves.  Thanks to Enviro Tech for the great information!

Selecting the appropriate chemical-resistant glove Published in Safety + Health magazine.  This site includes some great links to additional publications.

We would be happy to assist your lab with selection of the proper gloves for your application(s).  Give us a call!