Why do Gloves Fail Dielectric Testing?

OSHA requires that formal testing by a third party firm is conducted every 6 months. Gloves can fail formal testing for numerous reasons. But one common yet most overlooked reason is due to improper storage. Ideal storage is vital to keeping them in good working condition.

  • Gloves should be stored in a location that is as cool, dark, and dry as possible.
  • The storage location should be as free as practicable from ozone, chemicals, oils, solvents, damaging vapors and fumes.
  • They should be stored away from electrical discharges and sunlight. Fluorescent light and sunlight are especially harmful to the rubber.
  • Remove leather protectors from the gloves. Store rubber insulating gloves in a glove bag, finger tips up, hung, not laid flat or in any manner that will cause stretching or compression.
Field electrical glove testing

Glove being tested in the field

Why do Gloves Fail Field Testing?

OSHA requires that the user of the insulated rubber gloves inspect the gloves for damage before each use, and immediately following any incident that can reasonably be suspected of having caused damage. The user of the glove may test the gloves with an air inflation test with a portable inflator. If a one is unavailable, manually inflate the glove my rolling the cuff tightly to trap air inside. Repeat procedure with glove turned inside out. Gloves should be discarded if any of the following (but not limited to) are found during field inspection. However, with higher classes of gloves, an inflator is required because the gloves are too stiff to be rolled up by hand.

  • Hole, tear, puncture, or cut to the gloves
  • Embedded foreign object
  • Ozone checking, which looks like dry rot. Ozone checking is a series of interlacing cracks.
  • Texture changes caused by swelling, softening, hardening, or becoming sticky or inelastic.

Proper Cleaning:

Gloves should be cleaned as needed to remove foreign substances.

  • To clean rubber insulated gloves, wash with a mild soap and rinse thoroughly with water.
  • Air dry the gloves with less than 120 Degree away from direct sunlight and all sources of ozone.
  • If any defect is found that might damage the insulating properties, such as spilled chemicals that do not wash off, the gloves should be submitted to a testing facility.

Proper Usage:

  • Leather protectors shall always be worn over the rubber insulating gloves to provide protection against punctures, abrasions, cuts and limit UV exposure. See ASTM F496 for exceptions regarding finger dexterity requirements and low voltage use.
  • Always remove ALL jewelry and sharp objects from your hands and arms before inserting hands in to the gloves.

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