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Gripping New Glove Solutions

Published: 10th Mar 2011 in OSA Magazine

This is probably going to be one of the shortest articles that you’ve ever read as the answer to that question is YES, grip is indeed the new safety feature.

So how come grip is able to offer the glove user more safety? Surely gloves have always had grip – so how can this be a new thing?

The answer to these questions is to do with the type of grip and the way a glove delivers it.

For many years glove manufacturers have been developing and producing gloves that have been unable to deliver the type of performance needed. For example, in lightweight assembly applications, such as the ones found typically on automotive production lines, the grip has to be enough to be able to handle the parts; however, their shouldn’t be too much grip as this can hinder those assembling the parts. On the flip side there are people that handle oily components to make, for example, transmissions and suspension systems which are covered in preserving oils and lubricating fluids.

Grip over last five years appears to be something that the manufacturer’s research and development departments have been tasked with improving and much of that emphasis appears to have been focused on delivering improved oil grip.

It’s not limited to oil grip as there have also been some significant advancements in assembly gloves in dry areas. MaxiFlex® from ATG® serves as a good example of this optimised dry grip that enables people to pick small parts up, while not having too much grip during the assembly activity itself.

How have people managed all these years?

For many years the suppliers of gloves have talked about the glove offering grip through all sorts of weird and wonderful guises; however, this is what I call
marketing ‘fluff‘. It’s fluff as the words used in the literature are extremely well articulated, stimulate interest and are appealing to those choosing and using gloves professionally.

The reality is that there has been little on the marketplace, especially in oily environments, to deliver the necessary grip in conjunction with the other characteristics required such as dexterity and flexibility.

It’s the general consensus that the best oil grip is offered by natural materials such as cotton and leather. Yet, while they may offer outstanding oil grip they are obviously unable to offer the protection from the oil itself.

Some get over this by placing a cotton or leather glove over the top of the liquid repellent and/or chemical resistant glove; however, this compromises dexterity, flexibility and tactility.

The other alternative would be to use a chemical resistant glove and to try to find one with a good grip pattern in the palm. Patterns such as ‘lozenge’ and ‘sand patch’ have been quite common but in reality they offer little, if any, assistance in enhancing their grip.

So how did people cope in the past? It’s quite simple. They applied their own grip by exerting more force through the hand and arm muscles. Lifting a 1kg oily weight requires about 40% more effort with a standard, unsupported, nitrile chemical resistant glove, versus doing the same lift with the new generation of oil grip gloves.

The consequences of increased muscle power?

Over the years people have made up for this lack of grip through muscle compensation. Simply put, they applied more pressure with their muscles to attain the grip required – so why can’t workers carry on doing this? Why do we need better gripping gloves?

Simply put again, it’s now commonly accepted that this way of working can cause long term health issues if not addressed. So what should you look out for?

General symptoms

The signs would typically include aches, pains, tension and disorders involving parts of the arm from fingers to the shoulders and/or the neck. There can also
be problems with the soft tissues muscles, tendons and ligaments, along with the circulatory and nerve supply to the limb.

The symptoms are usually caused or made worse by work. They include problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome, tenosynovitis, and also conditions where there is pain but not a recognised condition that can be identified.

It is more commonly known within the gloves business as repetitive strain injury, or occupational overuse syndrome. These two commonly used terms can be misleading with regard to the many factors that can contribute to the onset of the conditions - hence the problem being referred to as ‘upper limb disease‘.

More concretely, when talking/ interviewing your work force ask them if they have aches and pains, tenderness in muscles, stiffness, weakness, numbness,
cramp and/or swelling.

What causes an upper limb disease?

There are a number of factors, the most obvious being repetitive work that is carried out for a long period of time and uncomfortable working postures, both of which can be addressed by reviewing work flow organisation and looking at and adjusting the ergonomics where the activity is being carried out.

Other things that should also be considered are the working environment itself - look at and modify the temperature, lighting, demands, work breaks or lack of them. The point is that gloves can only do a part of the job and this has to be part of a holistic approach.

Gloves with the appropriate grip have a major impact on the amount of grip force exerted, so it’s important to get it right and do your research.

Workers are also more likely to suffer an upper limb problem if exposed to more than one risk factor. So how can grip help?

How can grip help?

Gravity is what causes things to fall, so if you want to lift something you have to grab it and hold onto it so it doesn’t drop. The energy required to hold anything is closely related to the friction co-efficient. A larger friction co-efficient makes it easier to lift things and this saves energy, leaving more in reserve for getting the job done.

For an average male the arm can deliver up to 60kg of grip force, which implies that it is only possible for an average male to lift a dry weight of 24kg, on the basis that 1kg requires 2.5 kg hand grip force. Should the item lifted have a thin film of oil, then nearly 40% additional effort is required and reduces the technical lifting limit to 15kg, some 9kg less than in a dry situation.

The new wave of grip products offered by some companies covered later in this article, can reduce the amount of force required. The table below is intended give an idea of the improvements these new type of grip gloves can deliver in oily applications by looking in the third column - ‘with new gloves’.

At the lower 2kg weight the performance over standard gloves is a staggering 60% improvement - and even though this relative improvement reduces with weight, it still achieves a 40% improvement when lifting a 6kg weight.

Given that the trend is for people to be exposed to lower weight limits as robots take the need away for heavy manual handling, this has to be seen as a big step forward in dealing with upper limb disease.

Additional safety benefits

There are two other major safety benefits to be gained by ensuring that workers use gloves with the appropriate levels of grip.

The major one relates to cut resistance. Many of the minor cut injures are dealt with by introducing new higher cut resistance gloves which have three major
negatives. Firstly they are more expensive, as to deliver more cut resistance requires more, expensive, cut resistant fibres. Secondly, as a consequence of increasing the cut resistance, the gloves nine times out of ten become thicker - and thicker gloves hinder people from doing their job. If the gloves are not comfortable and/or practical they will be removed, which leads to the third problem - increased exposure to cuts.

Frequently accidents occur when people take their gloves off and if the glove is thicker, to increase its cut resistance, it’s more likely they will remove the glove and then forget, or be reluctant to put it back on.

It’s strange but I’ve seen, many times, that the introduction of more cut resistant gloves doesn’t resolve the issue of cuts per se; rather, it remains at the same level - but more often than not it increases. So what’s the solution?

As a first step focus on resolving the cause of the problem rather than the effect. In the many hundreds of manufacturing facilities that I’ve seen around the world in my 15 years in this business, few people look at resolving the grip prior to evaluating the level of cut protection necessary. Simply put, if the item handled doesn’t move in the hand then the likelihood of the glove - and consequently worker - being cut is virtually minimal.

Everyone wins

It’s easy to compare the cost of good grip versus high cut resistance fibres, then you’ll soon see that major cost benefit to your organisation plus - given the gloves will be thinner - your workers are likely to be happier to wear them. Add to this the fact that higher glove usage means accidents should go down, you have another significant cost saving.

The direct cost of a minor injury is today estimated at US $342, so bear this in mind when your accident injury rate in coming down. Today there is still a general misconception that thicker gloves offer more resistance, so you may have to do some educational work to demonstrate to your workforce why you’ve focused on grip.

Additionally there may benefits to worker safety from the reduced risk of dropping the item they are tasked with handling. Many foot injuries come from things being dropped, so gloves with better grip should also reduce the likelihood of this happening.

It will also reduce the budget for damaged goods, so the manufacturing people will also be happy. So, we’ve outlined the safety benefits, but are there any commercial benefits?

The commercial aspect of appropriate levels of grip

Have you ever stopped to think how much time and money has been spent on conducting time and motion studies to make the factory as efficient as possible? The answer will of course be ‘yes’, but did you then ever think that the production process/lines can only go as quickly as the people working on them?

The reality is that a production line only goes as fast as the people that work between the robots. In this respect gloves with the correct levels of fit, flexibility,
dexterity and grip have to be seen as investments in productivity. This is especially relevant for those having to
work in oily environments.

So what types of products should I be considering?

What’s on the market

The largest technological steps in recent years have come in gloves designed for oily environments. The traditional type of oil grip gloves on the market today use tiny convex projections on the flat glove, which helped; however, the new wave of oil grip protection gloves use a system with micro-craters that act like tiny suction pads which, at lower weights, deliver up to 60% more grip force power.

The gloves you should add to your list for consideration are split in two sections: oil and dry.

For oily or wet applications

ATG® has just launched a range of patented gloves designed for oil application that they claim to provide a less fatiguing and more intense grip through the use of their GripTech® technology platform.

MaxiDry® GP are designed for light weight jobs that require precision handling e.g. engine assembly applications; MaxiDry® LR for mid weight applications
requiring low level chemical resistance and MaxiDry® CR for heavier weight jobs needing full chemical resistance. They have a nice online animation presentation of the range that explains the feature and benefits along with the range at: www.atg-maxidry.com

Ansell® have the AlphaTec® range that includes two gloves, the most recent being the AlphaTec® 58-270 which is intended for light to medium chemical
applications. This range incorporates the Ansell Grip technologyTM as does the AlphaTec® 58-530/58-535, which is designed for medium to heavyweight jobs.

Towa® glove offers the ActivGripTM series that incorporates their microfinish technology. Towa say that this grip adapts itself to different conditions by using tiny suction cups which attach themselves firmly to the material being handled. If you want to know more see this animation: www.towagloves.com. Look for the thumbnail on the right hand side of the page called ‘microfinish video’. The animation is somewhat alternative, however the spirit and message is good.

For dry application

There are two gloves that should always be on your shopping list if you’re looking  for a lightweight glove requiring optimal dry grip for assembly applications.

ATG offers the MaxiFlex range of gloves that are designed and developed as a breathable glove for precision handling in dry environments. It’s becoming the new standard for these types of gloves.

The other glove is the HyFlex Foam 11-800 from Ansell which set the standard for this market 14 years ago, and over the years they’ve maintained this
original recipe. You’ll find many satisfied people using this, so take a look.

Grip the new safety feature

Hopefully this article has given you some insight into why grip is the new safety feature. If you’d like to inform yourself more on the gloves recommended and/
or get further free advice on available gloves, there are some useful links below that may be of interest.

Useful links

Radar Gloves is the first and only free search tool built for the glove business that gives you quick results in an easy manner, with fully independent and unbiased results, automatic assessment of the suitability of a product for your application, and printable data sheets that facilitate product quotes with your supplier.

The most appropriate products from each of the key glove suppliers in your region are listed and supported by the unique Radar chart and 5-star rating.


ATG have developed two dedicated animations for the MaxiFlex and MaxiDry products that can be found here: www.atgmaxiflex.com and

www.atg maxidry.com

More information can also be found at www.atg-glovesolutions.com

Ansell have a dedicated brochure for AlphaTec that can be found at the following link:


Towa Gloves have developed a specific grip animation that can be found at: www.towagloves.com. Once on their website look for the ‘micro finish’ thumb nail on the right hand side of the homepage.

Author Details:

David Staniforth has more than 15 years of experience in sales, business development, key account management and marketing at operational and strategic levels. He is currently Partner at Noneuchi Consulting SA and Partner at Radar XI Ltd.

He began his career at Nestle and subsequently moved into product management for Ansell. His innovation and creativity led Ansell to develop the HyFlexTM concept, a major global brand. His final contribution at Ansell was establishing and running the end-user consulting division which Frost and Sullivan recognised with the European Customer Excellence award.

His intuitive sense of what customers want has led to the recent creation of what he says is the world’s first glove search engine: www.radargloves.com

David is active with the Charted Institute of Marketing (CIM) and is a fellow of the Asian Institute of Technology. He has lectured at Liverpool Business School, at CIM on overcoming global business challenges, and has spoken at numerous health and safety events. He has also written for many of the respected international health and safety press.

He combined work and study to earn his MBA with the Open University and has a first-class BA honours degree from Liverpool Business School.

David can be reached at: david.staniforth@radar11.com and at +32 495 120 515

Published: 10th Mar 2011 in OSA Magazine


David Staniforth

David Staniforth has more than 15 years of experience in sales, business development, key account management and marketing at the operational and strategic levels. He is currently Partner at Noneuchi Consulting SA and Partner at Radar XI Ltd.

He began his career at Nestle and subsequently moved into product management for Ansell. His innovation and creativity led Ansell to develop the HyFlexTM concept, a major global brand. His final contribution at Ansell was establishing and running the end-user consulting division which Frost and Sullivan recognised with the European Customer Excellence award.

His intuitive sense of what customers want has led to the recent creation of what he says is the world’s first glove search engine: www.radargloves.com. Radar Gloves is a free web-based service that delivers the most suitable products from all the key branded manufacturers within seconds.

David is active with the Charted Institute of Marketing (CIM) and is a fellow of the Asian Institute of Technology. He has lectured at Liverpool Business School, at CIM on overcoming global business challenges, and has spoken at numerous health and safety events. He has also written for many of the respected international health and safety press.

He combined work and study to earn his MBA with the Open University and has a first-class BA honours degree from Liverpool Business School.

David can be reached at: david.staniforth@radar11.com and at +32 495 120 515

David Staniforth



+32 495 120 515

+32 495 120 515

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