Gloves not only protect your hands but also your entire body. If your job exposes you to electrical hazards, knowing how to protect yourself and understanding glove materials can be life-saving.
What kind of gloves should you wear at work? Do rubber gloves protect against electricity?
Workers ask these questions when they are window-shopping for safety gear, and I’m here to bust some myths. Hopefully, after reading this, you can determine the right gloves effectively safeguard you from coming into contact with live circuits.
Table of Contents
Myth: All Rubber Gloves Can Protect You From Electrical Hazards
Fact: Though there is such a thing as rubber gloves for electrical work, let me emphasize that not all rubber gloves you see in the market can shield you from electrical shock.
According to this article on Grainger Know-How, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states that electrical gloves should be tested periodically and before they are used in service. For further information, I highly recommend checking OSHA’s website.
Be sure to check the label when buying protective equipment against electrical hazards. Manufacturers should tell you how much electricity the insulating material can withstand.
For instance, the product description on the packaging says “protects the wearer against up to 25,500V in dry conditions.” This information should tell you whether or not the product meets your job requirements. If you are unsure of the glove’s safety rating, consult your employer.
I’m sure some of you are wondering, “Do rubber gloves prevent electric shock? Are rubber gloves insulators?”
As a natural insulator, rubber is non-conductive. However, the gloves usually work hand-in-hand with a leather protector as explained in this video by Quad City Safety, Inc. This additional protection can prevent the rubber from getting slashed and cut.
Myth: Small Tears in the Rubber Gloves Do Not Affect Their Performance
Fact: Holes of any size and scratches on the gloves are unsafe. That’s because they create an opening to allow the electricity to pass through and harm the worker. The OSHA’s website discourages employers and workers from using insulating materials with defects like holes, cuts, punctures, or tears.
So, how can you tell whether the gloves do not have any defects? This video by Lineman’s Testing Laboratories of Canada Limited illustrates the different methods you can use to inspect your gloves.
Myth: The Most Durable Electrical Rubber Gloves Can Protect You for Years
Fact: No, you cannot wear the same electrical rubber gloves without periodic testing. The date stamp on the rubber gloves indicates the date of the testing.
From the date of initial testing, the rubber gloves can be placed into service for up to one year. But this article by enespro emphasizes that they must be tested after six months. If they pass, the gloves must be stamped with the new testing date and retested after another six months.
Keep in mind that electrical rubber gloves come in different classes. The thicker ones, such as Classes 2, 3, and 4, typically last longer than Class 0 and 00.
Note: You must log the dates of when the testing was conducted and when you start using them. In this way, you can remind yourself to replace the gloves. Regardless, make it a habit to thoroughly inspect your gloves each time you use them at work.
While the internet has provided us with a wealth of information, there are still loads of articles that can mislead readers and the consequences can be fatal. When looking for gloves to prevent electric shock, you must do your research and be critical of your sources.
In this article on do rubber gloves protect against electricity, I enumerated all the myths and counter them with facts. Here are three tips that can help you work with electricity safely:
- Make sure that your electrical rubber gloves fit well
- Routinely check for defects
- Read and understand the OSHA and ASTM safety guidelines
Veronica is our content editor. She is a talent in delivery. Her main work is editing and writing articles that are both informative and simple to follow. She is in charge of synthesizing our understanding of what personal protection equipment (PPE) is needed in each job, how to best apply it, and how to visualize that equipment.