Hand Protection: Cost Should No Longer Be The Deciding Factor

Written by Nick Collins, Marketing Director for Ritz Safety

Take a moment and consider this familiar scenario; You have been presented with two glove options for your workforce of about one hundred employees.  Glove option one features durable construction using a top grain leather with minimal dexterity and cut resistance, comes from a trusted glove manufacturer and costs only $8 per pair. Option B features a nitrile dipped Kevlar® shell for excellent cut resistance, superior dexterity and durability, good wet and dry grip and it can be laundered for extended use but is $12 per pair. Simple math says to go with option one, right? If you purchase just one pair per employee, your cost difference alone is $400 less. But what about the factors other than just cost?

As a Safety Manager, your focus is to find the best option for the task at hand while considering a variety of important factors. A 2013 study* from TriComB2B in partnership with the University of Dayton School of Business found that price dominated just 55% of all purchasing decisions. Instead, product features, benefits and even brand name are other attributes that are factored in on buying decisions. We no longer live and work in a cost-driven world. Instead, Safety Managers are looking for gloves that are dexterous, coated for an enhanced grip, and made with materials that are inherently cut resistant, in addition to other features, in an effort to increase worker safety. While cut resistance is an obvious component of elevated protection, the other two aspects should not be overlooked either. A glove that lacks dexterity may be removed to perform certain tasks, which removes the worker’s protection. An enhanced grip makes it less likely something will slip out of, or through the worker’s hands, which could cause a laceration. There are multiple variables to take into account for each job or task to ensure the overall protection meets workers’ needs. So let’s look at some of these additional factors that one may want to consider prior to making a purchasing decision.

Advancements in Glove Construction Technology

You may be asking “But aren’t these cut resistant gloves much more expensive than general purpose gloves?” Until very recently, that was the case. However, advancements in manufacturing processes and engineered yarn technology has allowed glove manufacturers to narrow this pricing gap dramatically. Engineered yarns optimize performance, function, and protection by blending select fibers to exceed industry standards. The ultimate objective has always been affordable cut resistant gloves for practically every application and now it can be provided for everyone, in every market.

Glove Coatings Provide Added Safety

Previously, construction workers were typically seen wearing those fabric/leather split palm gloves. However switching to coated seamless knits with engineered yarns enhances protection and allows workers to more securely hold power tools, handle sharp fasteners and sheet metal. Warehouse workers who often wear the economical general purpose gloves can now be more secure, even while handling those dangerous box cutters or razor sharp tape dispenser blades. With coated dipped gloves, workers can now keep their gloves on while performing all job tasks opposed to having to remove bulkier gloves to perform a task that requires more dexterity than they can get from their current glove. By removing their gloves, workers are put at greater risk of injury.

Dipped vs. Leather: Wear, Cut and Abrasion Resistance

Protective Industrial Products (PIP), a key supplier for Ritz Safety, recently tested a number of their dipped synthetic material gloves versus those made of natural materials. The information below demonstrate that the Cost of Ownership (CoO) for many synthetic gloves is lower than gloves made of natural materials. CoO is defined as the price of the glove divided by the number of rotations of the blade on a Taber Abrasion test machine required to wear through the glove material. The Taber Abrasion test is widely recognized as one of the most effective means of measuring a product’s durability. The test method used to gather this data was ASTM D 3389 – using 1,000 grams of weight on the abrasive wheel. Here is a summary of their observations about this data**:

  • Over time the CoO of leather is higher than using any other glove tested. Leather offers less protection and performance than synthetic options. The most expensive glove to wear based on the CoO is top grain leather…the test results illustrate 3 ½ times more costly than nitrile foam, seven times more than latex flat dipped and 11 times more than the CoO of coated Dyneema®.
  • The least expensive glove to wear based on the CoO is Dyneema®. The tested glove1 offers abrasion resistance that is 160 times that of a regular grade top grain leather glove.
  • The tested splash latex coated knit glove2 was found to be one third of the CoO of an economy split leather palm glove and offers almost twice the wear.
  • The tested crinkle finish latex coated knit3 offers 30% more protection from abrasion than a “B/C” grade split leather palm and costs only 25% more than the leather glove. This same glove also offers abrasion resistance that is three times that of a regular grade leather drivers and it is seven times more cost effective to own.
  • The tested economy crinkle finish latex coated knit4 provided almost twice the wear of the regular grade top grain leather glove and is eight times more cost effective to own.
  • The tested foam nitrile coated nylon knit5 will provide almost six times the wear of the “B/C” grade split leather palm and it is almost three time more cost effective to own. This same glove offers approximately three times more abrasion resistance than regular grade leather drivers while CoO of leather is over five times higher.

Just Turn It or Wash It

Another factor to consider is whether the gloves you are considering can be worn on either hand or machined wash. By having the capability to be worn on either the left or right hand, wearers have essentially doubled the life of the glove. Some machined knit gloves also feature the benefit of being able to be machined washed. This enables many of the contaminants the gloves have picked up during use, whether dirt and debris, chemicals, or other types of foreign particles, to be washed from the gloves and returned back to near-new characteristics. In either case, factoring in these life-extending capabilities should be factored into your overall glove costs. (Two items of note: 1) If you or your employees are washing the gloves, or you have an outside laundering company handling this, additional fees for laundering, should be considered and 2) Some gloves will lose certain benefits and characteristics with each wash. Please refer to the glove manufacturer for washing limits and instructions on care, and be sure to inspect your gloves after each wash cycle, ensuring they will provide the same level of protection as when first used). Launderability of a glove and whether it is ambidextrous or not can also become a factor for those companies who attempt to minimize waste. By adding life to the gloves via machine/hand washing or the simple switching the glove from left to right hand usage, companies can help minimize their waste footprint as well.

The Same But Different

The true costs of a glove are going to vary from company to company and even person to person. Some companies, even if they are in the same type of industry, will cycle through gloves at different rates for a variety of reasons. From different weather environments and worksite requirements to the pride employees take in their safety gear and unaccounted for usage, you should always conduct a site survey that is specific to your company’s requirements prior to deciding on a glove purchase. Having a good understanding of the requirements and demands your work and employees will be putting on their hand protection will help you determine which the best options will be. Most suppliers, including Ritz Safety, are happy to provide these site surveys either on their own or with the partnership of a trusted glove manufacturer. In many cases, bringing in a representative of the glove or gloves you are considering, will also help you better understand the best options, as they may see things that could require a different type of glove feature or style.

Making the Decision

So when the time comes to make a decision on the hand protection for your workforce, be sure that you are looking at the many other factors presented with the purchase and not simply cost alone. As companies continue attempting to keep costs low and get the most out of every purchase, sometimes higher up-front costs will actually lead to lower overall costs in the end. Taking time to properly assess all the factors related to your glove needs will help you determine the true costs of that $8 or $12 glove purchase.

References: *”The Considered Purchase Decision: What Matters, What Doesn’t, And What It Means for B2B Marketing and Sales”; TriComB2b in partnership with the University of Dayton School of Business Administration, 2013. http://www.tricomb2b.com/sites/default/files/sites/default/files/uploads/TriComB2B-UD_Research_Report-2013.pdf

**Glove models utilized during testing: 1) PIP 19-D622. 2) PIP 39-C122. 3) PIP 39-C1300. 4) PIP 39-1310. 5) PIP 34-800.

Ritz Safety, an international distributor for a broad range of personal protective equipment, opened it’s doors in 1983. With nine locations throughout the United States, Ritz Safety has a location near you, with 24/7 ordering capabilities also available at www.RitzSafety.com. Please contact us directly at (800) 451-3077 or Sales@RitzSafety.com with questions or to place an order.

 Additional article information was provided by Protective Industrial Products, one of Ritz Safety’s key partners in providing cutting-edge safety equipment. PIP has been an independently owned supplier of consumable personal protective equipment to industrial distribution for over 30 years.

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