Rubber insulating gloves are among the most important personal protection gear for electrical workers. To be effective, electrical safety gloves must incorporate high dielectric and physical strength, along with flexibility and durability. To help ensure safety and performance are maintained, they should meet and/or exceed the requirements of ASTM D120-14a – Standard Specification for Rubber Insulating Gloves. Rubber Insulating Gloves should also be electrically tested according to ASTM D120-14a and other International Standards to verify that safety and compliance.
Electrical safety gloves are categorized by the levels of voltage protection they provide and their resistance to ozone. Ozone can cause cracking of the rubber and compromise the integrity of the glove. If these gloves are used in an environment where the levels of ozone are high, then ozone resistance is a critical factor to consider during and after the use of the glove. Ozone resistance is covered by the “Type” designation. Type I glove is not ozone-resistant while Type II is ozone-resistant.
Once an electrical safety glove has been issued, it should be maintained in a safe and reliable condition. This requires that the gloves be inspected for any damage before each day’s use as well as immediately following any incident that may have occurred to cause damage. Before each use, the electrical safety gloves should be inspected for holes; rips or tears; ozone deterioration, cuts or ultraviolet damage. Gloves should also be examined to determine if they show any damage as a result of chemical contamination, particularly from petroleum products. The first sign of chemical exposure is swelling in the area of contamination. Should any glove be exposed to chemical contaminants or suspected of any other physical damage, they should be retested per ASTM D120-14a requirements.
Testing of Personal Protective Safety equipment is critical to determine safety assurance and acceptability of a product as well as safety of one’s self. Electrical safety gloves should be subjected to periodic electrical testing. Rubber insulating gloves being used in the field must be tested before first issue and retested every six months thereafter to ensure no breakdown in the electrical resistance protection. If the insulating gloves have been electrically tested but not issued for service, they should not be placed into service unless they have been electrically tested within the previous 12 months.
In order to maintain the highest level of insulating protection and ensure long life of your electrical safety glove, it is essential that they are properly cared for and stored. Before each use, gloves should be inspected for holes, rips or tears, ozone cutting (the cutting action produced by ozone on rubber under mechanical stress cracks), UV checking, and signs of chemical deterioration. Gloves should also be examined to determine if they show any damage as a result of chemical contamination, particularly from petroleum products.. Should any rubber equipment be exposed to chemical contaminants or be suspect of any other physical damage, it should be submitted to inspection, cleaning and electrical testing.
Commonly Asked Questions
Q: Can I just use the rubber glove only, and not buy the leather part? A: A leather protective glove should always be worn over rubber insulating gloves to provide the needed mechanical protection against cuts, abrasions, and punctures.
Q: Would retesting be needed if I don’t use the electrical safety gloves very often and visually see no damage? A: Yes. Retesting is still needed to help verify the integrity of the material and to ensure electrical safety is maintained for the user.
Q: If I find a hole, can I just “patch it,” like a tire inner tube? A: Per 1910.137(c)(2)(x)(D), “Rubber insulating gloves and sleeves with minor physical defects, such as small cuts, tears, or punctures, may be repaired by the application of a compatible patch. Also, rubber insulating gloves and sleeves with minor surface blemishes may be repaired with a compatible liquid compound. The repaired area shall have electrical and physical properties equal to those of the surrounding material. Repairs to gloves are permitted only in the area between the wrist and the reinforced edge of the opening.” Repaired insulating equipment must be retested before it can be used.
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