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Hand Impact Protection: ANSI/ISEA 138


According to OSHA, of the 145,000 recordable injuries in today’s workplace and government agencies, 63% are made up of cuts; 18% are due to crush and bone breakage. These numbers present a tremendous opportunity to improve and educate.

ANSI/ISEA 138 is specifically designed for industrial gloves and the special protection they offer to workers. Many people mistakenly believe 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 a common danger for manufacturing, warehouse and transport 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 fractures.

To date, there had been no commonly agreed performance standard or test method in North America for dorsal (back of hand) impact protection. Although many PPE manufacturers produce a wide range of protective gloves with new designs and materials constantly entering the market, there is either little differentiation between the materials used for impact protection; or performance claims can’t be readily validated.

The lack of any objective performance standard has created a serious challenge for employers responsible for selecting appropriate PPE for industrial workers.

Why Standard is Important:

Finally, now, in the U.S., leading glove manufacturers and material suppliers have collaborated to develop new, voluntary standard from the International Safety Equipment Association—ISEA, an American National Standards Institute-accredited standards developing organization.

ANSI/ISEA 138, American national standard for performance and classification for impact-resistant hand protection, aims to improve on the somewhat limited treatment of impact performance recently incorporated into the main European hand protection standard, EN 388. That standard took its cues from an existing motorcycle impact standard for hand protection. The ISEA 138 standard, however, is specifically designed for industrial gloves and the special protections they offer. The defined ISEA 138 levels will give greater choice and flexibility to the end-user. Scaled performance levels help employers make a choice that meets the needs of their workforce, giving them the confidence to choose protective gloves that are both appropriate to potential risk and hazard levels.

The standard provides a reliable starting point to which end-users can apply all the variables affecting their specific workforce needs, including tasks, work environments, budgets, etc.

Key Compliance Requirements:

  • define an agreed test method;
  • include defined performance levels;
  • specify a pictogram mark for each of the defined levels for compliant gloves;
  • and require that product be tested in a laboratory having a certificate of accreditation meeting the requirements in ISO/IEC 17025:2017, General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.

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The more information people have, the better able they are to make decisions that will keep them safe. As champions of safety, Superior Glove is thrilled to see the ISEA 138 updates to current impact standards. The new standards better define anti-impact capabilities, especially when it comes to higher-impact hazards, which means improved information for those looking to protect against impact risks. Better information, better selection, better safety. ISEA 138 is a win-win for everyone! Superior Glove(R), 888-428-1210, 

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