News, Articles & Events

Why Impact Protection?

Oct 11, 2019
Eric Henzie - Marketing

Impact protection has been a hot topic in the hand protection space all year due to the roll-out and adaptation of the new American National Standard for Performance and Classification for Impact-Resistant Gloves (ANSI/ISEA 138-2019). No matter where you turned in the National Safety Council's 2019 Congress and Expo hall, glove producers had a response to the new standard that was displayed as the solution to the matter at hand. But did you get all the answers as to why this level of back of hand protection was needed or which was the best fit for you? If you're interested in decreasing back-of-hand injuries and improving productivity, this article is for you. Let's dive in – but first, a little context.


In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released new Workplace Injury and Illness data that cited cuts, lacerations, and punctures as the largest source of hand injuries – accounting for 44 percent of the more than 140,000 hand injuries sustained at work. There's nothing surprising here as these numbers were in line with previous reports. However, once you take a deeper look at the data, crushes, fractures, sprains and tears – injuries that cause permanent disfiguration, scarring, or damage to the hands – account for a combined 30 percent of injuries (U.S. Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics). Furthermore, this category of "musculoskeletal injuries" also accounted for the largest median days away from work due to the nature of the injury and their effect on the inner workings of the hand. There's also research that indicates hand and finger fractures are the most expensive injuries from a productivity loss perspective and that this productivity loss contributes to more of the total cost than treatment and care combined (Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery). Clearly, this was a serious and prevalent issue that needed to be addressed – enter the new ANSI/ISEA 138-2019 standard.

Learn more about impact protection >


This voluntary standard was developed to help substantiate the level of impact protection required to prevent the serious musculoskeletal injuries referenced above. It was designed specifically for the industrial safety market to support safety managers and end-users alike in making more informed decisions when assessing their impaction protection needs. The standard evaluates compliant gloves for their ability to dissipate impact force on the back of the hand, including the knuckles and fingers. Impact testing is conducted by accredited third-party labs that assign a protection level that ranges from one to three. The higher the number, the higher the degree of protection.

Learn more about impact protection >


With the standard evaluating performance by level, the tendency is to select the highest level available, after all, it's providing the most protection…Not so fast! It's important to keep in mind that the standard is just a guide and your application is the most important factor when selecting the right impact protection as it dictates the level of dexterity needed to successfully perform the job.

There's an inverse relationship between the level of impact protection and dexterity. Technically, gloves with higher impact ratings often require a thicker protective material. However, the material composition of these thicker materials has a performance threshold and the thickness compromises dexterity. Certain manufacturers realized this and sought to identify alternative solutions for their impact protection offerings. They opted to use coated seamless knit (CSK) liners which are lighter and provide a more comfortable, form-fitting hand feel and thus offer a much higher degree of dexterity than conventional cut and sewn or leather gloves. Furthermore, CSK gloves are now available with advanced engineered fibers that even feature very thin 18-gauge shells with cut resistance of up to A9. Any perceived dexterity loss that results from thermoplastic rubber (TPR) panels is more than offset by the form-fitting feel of the CSK glove shell.

Learn more about impact protection >


Now that we've outlined the relationship between dexterity and the level of impact protection, let's discuss impact protection needs based on application. For jobs in oil & gas, mining, construction, manufacturing, warehousing and transportation, workers face a constant risk of enduring hand injuries that vary from less serious to debilitating. Combine the series of routine threats with working in close quarters and it's clear that a higher level of impact protection is the best solution because dexterity isn't as integral to the job function.

For jobs that include light construction, material handling and assembly, a general-purpose impact-resistant glove may make sense. General-purpose impact-resistant gloves are also catching on in the warehousing industry and general maintenance applications where machinery and confined spaces are a part of the day-to-day work detail, but a higher level of dexterity is needed.

Learn more about impact protection >


At the end of the day, when evaluating the best impact protection for you, the two key decision-making factors are the application and the level of dexterity you need. Do your research: Only leading glove manufacturers offer a broad base of impact gloves. These leading manufacturers have invested in using advanced coated seamless knit liner technology to offer high-cut, high dexterity options. The new standard and corresponding levels of impact established is only one piece of the puzzle. It all comes down to the environment you're using the glove in.

What's our favorite thing about the ANSI/ISEA 138 standard? It fostered functional innovation from glove manufacturers and R&D professionals across industries. The result? Safety managers and end-users benefiting from the selection of safe, functional protection that meets the needs of their specific job applications instead of just cosmetic TPR protection.

Learn more about impact protection >

More News, Articles & Events

Two of the Best Combine To Bring the Best Service

Protective Industrial Products, Inc. Acquires Dynamic Safety Inc. in Canada

Protective Industrial Products Inc. Announces 600,000 Square Foot Distribution Center in Olive Branch, Mississippi

Protective Industrial Products Inc. Acquires Glove and Sleeve Manufacturer Worldwide Protective Products LLC

Protective Industrial Products, Inc. Acquires QRP Gloves Inc. Leaders in Gloves and Finger Cots for Clean and Controlled Environments

Hi-Visibility Garments – The Future is Bright