Construction Health and Safety Consultancy and CDM Adviser Services

How many different types of work glove are there?
Posted by David Cant on October 24, 2013

As with any other piece of safety workwear, gloves come in many different forms depending on the type of use that they are expected to have. It is a fact that whatever kind of physical work activity you might be involved in today, the level of equipment and safety enhancements available is far higher than ever before.

When it comes to protecting the hands and forearms, there are many different types of hazards than need to be considered. This means that the different types of working gloves on the market might seem confusing to any newcomers to trade work and even to casual DIY users looking for suitable protection.

Whatever the reason you need a pair and whether it is a Nitrile glove (for working with oil) or a traffiglove (for safety knives) there is sure to be a specialised item that will be purpose-made for the job.

Here is a breakdown of the main types of work gloves:

General purpose work gloves

Protection from abrasion, piercing and cutting is essential in many different types of work. The ability to improve your grip or at least lessen the chances of dropping the project you are working with can be a major consideration too.

There are plenty of work gloves which are made for a wide range of uses. These are often constructed from tough leather with reinforced sections to give added protection. Many good brands are available across a range of price points.

Of course all gloves wear out and need replacing at some time so the more you can afford to spend the longer you can expect your gloves to last.

It is an employer’s responsibility to supply and replace these goods if they’re needed for the line of work involved so it may be worth checking out this guide from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) to choose the right gloves.

Cut resistant work gloves

One of the main hazards that gloves can protect against is cutting yourself on sharp or pointed objects or even when working with tools such as safety knives. Wearing a purpose made glove is the best way to protect yourself against this.

General purpose leather gloves can be useful but for the best protection you need a glove which is made from or reinforced with a material such as Kevlar.

Grip work gloves

Although protection is perhaps the main use for a working glove, getting a firm grip can be difficult with some of the thicker and stronger ones, especially in wet or difficult conditions.

There are many types of ‘grip gloves’ which utilise materials and designs specially created to maintain a firm grip on a wide range of products that you may find yourself working with. Depending on the situation your find yourself in you may need a simple lightweight glove that offers an extra grip capability and these can be put to good use in many day to day scenarios.

Nitrile work gloves

Nitrile rubber is more resistant than natural rubber when it comes into contact with various liquids that can be corrosive such as oils and acids. It is also able to withstand a range of temperatures from -40 to 108 °C so it is perfect for making gloves that can be used over a range of different situations.

The unique properties of the material mean that it is perfect for gloves intended for use as disposables in laboratory work, cleaning procedures and physical examinations. Nitrile gloves can also be used in circumstances which mean you will come into contact with materials such as oil which are not usually harmful in small doses but can have detrimental effects over a long term exposure.

Automobile and aeronautic industries often require handling of fuel hoses, seals, grommets and other components which bring with them exposure and contact with oil and other liquids and chemicals, meaning it is essential to use the correct protective hand wear best suited to the environment.


Whilst close and delicate hand work can be covered by different types of gloves, some actions that involve risks to the forearms themselves need longer gauntlet style gloves.

There are many applications where difficult access or immersion in liquids may mean that there is a hazard assessment highlighting potential damage to the arm. This could mean that an Extended Sleeve Nitrile Gauntlet might be required or if the work involves dealing with high temperatures, Insulated Gauntlets might be needed.

Heat resistant work gloves

When work takes place in extreme environments where workers are exposed to intense heat or in industrial processes where hot materials are encountered, thermal protection is required.

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David Cant is a Chartered Safety and Health Practitioner extraordinaire. He has a wealth of Industry experience and is the MD of Veritas Consulting. David also Blogs about Health and Safety here Health and Safety Consultants

His aim is to flavour Health and Safety with integrity, served with a side of humour You can find David on - Twitter and Google also Linkedin

This post has been filed in: Health and Safety Services

One Comment

  1. November 18, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    Gloves are so important to protect your hands especially when dealing with Electrical Arc Flash. Clydesdale offer a comprehensive range of gloves.

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