ISEA 138: Raising the Standard for Hand Impact Protection

By Rodney Taylor, D3O (original article on OHS online)


The standard is specifically designed for industrial gloves and the special protection they offer to workers.

The bones and soft tissues in the back of the hand are all vulnerable to impact injuries, varying from bumps and bruises to severe bone fractures. Many people mistakenly believe that hand impact injuries only affect a narrow range of industries, such as the offshore oil and gas sector, mining, and construction. In reality, the market is much wider, with impact-related injuries also being a common danger for manufacturing, warehouse, and transport workers.

To protect workers from impact hazards, personal protective equipment (PPE) manufacturers produce a wide range of gloves to protect people, with new designs and materials constantly entering the market. In the last two years, there has been an explosion of gloves with dorsal TPR protection. Yet there is either: little differentiation between the materials used for impact protection or performance claims that can’t be readily validated.

While some of these gloves include some sort of performance claims, to date there has been no commonly agreed performance standard or test method in North America for dorsal (back of hand) impact protection.

As a result, the market for impact gloves has expanded dramatically in recent years, driven in part by advances in technology and the range of materials available. However, those developments have caused a certain amount of misunderstanding and confusion. To take one example, a wide range of materials used in gloves claim to provide impact protection, many of which come under the umbrella term TPR. Yet TPR is a generic term that encompasses a broad range of materials. It means a wide range of gloves may all be labeled TPR but have very different performance attributes.

The absence of any objective performance standard creates a serious challenge for the professionals responsible for selecting appropriate PPE for industrial workers. With so many different products on the market, how do they evaluate and assess the quality of the impact protection offered?… Continue the article at




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