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The Importance of Glove Coatings

Discover the pivotal role of glove coatings in worker hand protection across industries, environments and job requirements.

By: Rick Pedley, Contributor

Gloves are essential for protecting workers from a myriad of hazards, ranging from sharp objects and toxic substances to extreme temperatures and abrasive materials. However, different work environments require different levels of protection and capabilities. This is where glove coatings come in. They provide gloves with enhanced characteristics for specific applications.

Below, we delve into the importance of glove coatings in enhancing functionality, durability, and safety across various industries, environments and job roles.


The type of glove used should align with the specific hazards and demands of the job. Image courtesy of PK Safety.

For optimal worker safety, factoring in glove coating is equally important as choosing the appropriate glove material. Glove coatings provide an additional layer of protection, augmenting the inherent properties of the glove material.

Beyond the basic functions of hand protection, glove coatings may offer the following benefits:

  • Enhanced Grip: Glove coatings can significantly enhance a worker’s grip on objects, even in wet or oily environments. This is particularly pivotal for tasks involving handling slippery materials or tools.
  • Abrasion Resistance: Coatings can substantially increase the abrasion resistance of gloves, safeguarding hands from the wear and tear caused by repetitive motions or frequent contact with abrasive surfaces.
  • Chemical Protection: Specialized coatings can provide an impenetrable barrier against various toxic substances, preventing skin exposure and potential chemical burns or irritation.
  • Temperature Resistance: Certain coatings can offer protection against extreme temperatures, both hot and cold, preventing injuries associated with thermal hazards while ensuring worker comfort.
  • Cut Resistance: Advanced coatings enhance gloves’ cut resistance, shielding workers’ hands from sharp objects and significantly reducing the risk of lacerations.
  • Dexterity and Comfort: For the utmost efficiency, the ideal gloves shouldn’t compromise workers’ dexterity or comfort. Advanced formulations enable gloves to maintain flexibility and breathability, allowing for precise movements and hand comfort during extended use.


A wide range of glove coatings are available, each with unique properties and ideal applications. These include the following:

Nitrile: This glove coating offers excellent grip and resistance to abrasion, punctures, chemicals  and oils. However, thicker versions may make gloves less flexible and are recommended for workers with latex allergies.

Latex: Latex coatings provide superior dexterity, flexibility and grip. Latex-coated gloves are often used in precision assembly tasks. But while their characteristics are suitable for most general use, latex gloves don’t provide sufficient resistance to chemicals and oil.

Polyurethane: Polyurethane coatings are non-toxic, food-safe and easy to clean. They provide good grip in oily and wet conditions and dexterity and flexibility for more precise movements. However, they tend to lack the durability that other glove coatings provide.

Foam Nitrile: With enhanced cushioning and warmth, nitrile foam-coated gloves are suitable for colder working environments. In addition, they combine excellent grip in oily or wet environments with good abrasion resistance.

Neoprene: This glove coating offers durability and resistance to abrasion, oil and solvents. They’re ideal for workers who require an all-in-one pair of gloves.

Vinyl: Vinyl-coated gloves are cost-effective, providing basic protection against dust, dirt and light abrasions. However, because they offer limited protection against chemicals and toxic substances, vinyl gloves are best reserved when working with non-hazardous materials.


Polyurethane coatings are non-toxic, food-safe, easy to clean and hygienic, making them ideal for food handlers. Image courtesy of PK Safety.

Choosing the appropriate glove coating is critical to ensure optimal worker protection and performance. As such, the type of glove used should align with the specific hazards and demands of the job.

Here’s a breakdown of suitable glove coatings for various applications:

Construction: Nitrile coatings offer excellent grip, abrasion resistance and chemical protection, making them ideal for construction workers.

Manufacturing: Latex coatings provide a high level of dexterity and grip, making them suitable for manufacturing tasks requiring precision and handling delicate components.

Automotive Industry: With exceptional durability, protection from abrasion, and resistance to oil and solvents, nitrile and neoprene coatings are suitable for automotive technicians working with greasy and abrasive materials.

Food Handling: Polyurethane coatings are non-toxic, food-safe and easy to clean, making them ideal for food handlers who need to maintain a high level of hygiene.

Healthcare: Nitrile and vinyl coatings are commonly used in healthcare settings due to their resistance to bloodborne pathogens, bodily fluids and disinfectants.

Glove coatings play a crucial role in enhancing hand protection and worker safety across a diverse range of industries. By choosing the appropriate coating based on job requirements and environmental conditions, employers and safety managers can effectively safeguard their workforce from various hazards while maintaining productivity and comfort. WMHS

Rick Pedley, PK Safety’s President and CEO, joined the family business in 1979. PK Safety, a supplier of occupational safety and personal protective equipment, has been operating since 1947 and takes OSHA, ANSI, PPE and CSA work safety equipment seriously. Visit

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