uvex phynomics airLite im Einsatz am Tablet

Industry 4.0 – requirements for safety gloves

As digitalisation advances, touch-sensitive displays are becoming more and more common in the workplace. As a result, there is a growing demand for protective work gloves with touchscreen capability. But what is behind the technology, what do the safety gloves need to be able to do and how do I know which gloves are suitable?

 

 

Industry 4.0 is playing an increasingly important role in everyday working life. We can see this in the touchscreens prevalent in the workplace, in the touch input options available on machines and in the personal and company smartphones used by employees. They enable employees to access a wealth of digital information on a single device at any time. Often just as intuitively as on a smartphone.

Industrial touch controls and displays are also dust and water-resistant because they do not involve mechanical parts. Digitalisation saves paper, while the connected IT landscape documents information immediately and makes it accessible at any time.

Display technology: A brief explanation

Various types of technology are used for touchscreens: One option is optical systems that, in actual fact, do not detect the touch but rather the presence of the finger near the display surface – for example, if a grid of IR light barriers is broken or the movement is detected by a camera.

Resistive displays are based on two thin conductive layers that are insulated from each other. When touched, these two layers are pressed together, which causes a measurable interruption to the insulation. In principle, both technologies work independently of the input device: Finger. Glove. Stylus. Anything can be used to navigate the screen.

The most common type of technology used is capacitive technology, as it is affordable, robust and well integrated in the established display production process. This technology also enables multiple simultaneous inputs to be reliably detected, including finger gestures. It works by generating an alternating electrical field between two thin conductive layers. The capacity of this field changes when e.g. a finger comes close because some of the charge is transferred. Like with resistive displays, the accuracy and number of potential simultaneous inputs is influenced by how the layers are structured and arranged. The disadvantage of capacitive displays, however, is that a transfer of charge is necessary. This means that electrically insulating materials, such as those that most gloves are made from, do not generally work well, or at all.

uvex phynomics airLite im Einsatz am Tablet

As a result, employees have to remove their safety gloves each time they want to use a touchscreen and then put them back on again afterwards. This is annoying and wastes time, but more importantly it increases the risk of contamination and injuries because employees are not protected by the gloves while using the touchscreen.

As touchscreens are also becoming more common in workplaces where personal protective equipment (PPE) has to be worn, there is a demand for safety gloves that not only protect the employee and/or the product, but are also touch capable.

There is another aspect to consider, as the use of assemblies and components that respond sensitively to electrostatic discharge (ESD) is increasing. Parts that would previously only be found in microelectronics and IT assembly are now standard components in household appliances and lighting, as well as mechanical and plant engineering. Even conventional assembly gloves therefore need to be able to reliably prevent electrostatic discharge.

Application areas where static charge needs to be dissipated to prevent a fire or explosion are even more critical.

Normative requirements and labelling

It is not surprising that there is a whole host of standards, professional association regulations and company test specifications for this reason. Only some of these refer specifically to safety gloves, though. The DIN EN 1149 and DIN EN 16350 standards were originally created for the purpose of explosion protection and define protective clothing and gloves with a discharge capability that is adequate for preventing the formation of ignitable discharges. However, only DIN EN 16350 applies explicitly to safety gloves.

Employees’ equipment and the working environment are required to have sufficient conductivity so as to enable a closed earthing chain. This means that the charge has to be not only distributed, but discharged. DIN EN 1149-5 defines limit values for the half-life period and shielding factor of electrostatic charge, as well as the surface resistance of dissipative protective clothing. DIN EN 16350, meanwhile, stipulates a maximum contact resistance of < 10Ω, assuming that the safety gloves are worn on the skin and earthing takes place via the wearer.

There are not yet any stipulations regarding labelling with pictograms for tested safety gloves. The use of the pictogram stipulated in DIN EN 1149 for protective clothing will be required only once the new standard on safety gloves, DIN EN ISO 21420, comes into force.

EN 1149-5 - die "Antistatik-Norm"

EN 1149-5 Symbol

Pictogram pursuant to DIN EN 1149, in future also for safety gloves (prEN ISO 21420:2018).

EN 61340-5-1 - die "ESD-Norm"

Symbol labelling for ESD safety gloves, based on the labelling recommended for packaging in DIN EN 61340-5-1, for example.

The DIN EN 61340 series of standards, which is designed to provide product protection, also does not apply specifically to safety gloves. The series describes a comprehensive concept intended to create conditions in which ESD-sensitive components can be handled safely. This applies not just to PPE, but also to floors and electrical installations, for example.

There is not yet a specific standard for touch functionality. However, it is useful to know that safety gloves that are tested in accordance with one or more of the above standards are practically touch capable: The limit values are generally adequate to enable touch-sensitive devices to be used with reliability.

uvex phynomic air lite

The requirements that arise for safety gloves are similar for both ESD and touch functionality. To influence the alternating field in capacitive displays described earlier, the safety glove must – exactly the same as for ESD – have a certain electrical conductivity. Human skin has this electrical conductivity, so it may be sufficient simply for the safety glove to be thin enough. Gloves without a stockinette therefore work better than coated knitted gloves. The materials used are also a factor: Fabrics that absorb moisture, like cotton or bamboo, are more conductive than synthetic fabrics such as polyester.

Black coatings are often coloured using carbon black, which is conductive and enhances the material’s touch capability. Foamed coatings, on the other hand, tend to have an insulating effect on account of the air bubbles they contain.

The devices used also play a role: The structure of the layers in the screen, the electronic control and the software-side calibration of different capacitive displays all influence the touch function. As a result, you may find that a glove works on a smartphone but that the system control does not respond immediately.

Summary

The touch requirements for PPE overlap with those for ESD product protection and explosion protection in many areas. Since there is no standardised test process for the touch capability of safety gloves, manufacturers are making do with the existing standards and familiar symbols in order to provide users with guidance. This means that safety gloves that are tested accordingly go beyond the requirements of the standard and also offer the desired touch functionality.

However, users should be aware that touch functionality alone, as is sometimes advertised by the symbols or marketing terms used by some PPE manufacturers, does not necessarily mean that the safety gloves are suitable for ESD or for use in explosion protection areas. For these requirements, it is important to continue to check the manufacturer’s information regarding certification in accordance with the relevant standard. If safety gloves comply with the DIN EN 16350 antistatic standard, it can be assumed that they cover touch functionality, ESD product protection and explosion protection.

Author:

Dr. Matthias Bartusch

Product Development/Coating Technology

UVEX SAFETY Gloves GmbH & Co. KG

www.uvex-safety.de


Measurably improved relief – the new uvex i-gonomics products of 2020!

What’s the difference between good and excellent protective equipment?

How reliable their protective features are? Well, perhaps – but that’s certainly not the whole story. The best PPE is one that users are happy to wear on a long-term basis, and above all else, that they do so regularly. There’s nothing less safe than uncomfortable and unergonomic equipment that gets left in someone’s locker at the start of their shift because it’s more of a hindrance than a help while they’re working.

The crux of the matter – for buyers in particular – is this:

there are countless standards for PPE protective properties – but none at all for ergonomics or wearer comfort.

That’s why we joined forces six years ago with Prüf- und Forschungsinstitut Pirmasens e. V. (Test and Research Institute Pirmasens), the Hohenstein Institute and Chemnitz University of Technology to develop scientific methods to measure the ergonomics and relief provided by PPE. Our aim: to be able to measure and compare these features based on objective criteria across different products and manufacturers.

Our most ergonomic product system of all time

We’ve already explained this in detail in this blog article, so we will just give a brief outline here. We test every newly developed product in the following three categories: force (that acts on the wearer), climate (e.g. breathability or anti-fogging properties, depending on the product type) and weight. The values from these individual measurements are combined to form a relief index. If a product with a high index value meets our requirements for ergonomics and relief, we will include it in the uvex i-gonomics product system.

We first presented uvex i-gonomics to the public at A+A four years ago – and we added a range of new products to the product system two years ago.

#1 uvex pheos faceguard

The uvex pheos faceguard safety helmet system achieves an extremely respectable relief index of 4.23. Its low weight (weight) and ergonomic weight distribution that protects the neck (force) are both exceptional – but most notably, the visor remains fog-free for an extremely long period of time, even in the most challenging conditions (climate).

More information about uvex pheos faceguard

#2 uvex suXXeed ESD seamless shirt

At 4.73, the uvex suXXeed ESD seamless shirt comes very high up in the ergonomics rankings – due in part to the fact that the Tencel® material used is extremely breathable and fast-drying, creating an optimal environment for the wearer at all times (climate). Its low weight (weight) is also an important factor. However, the shirt scores a perfect 5.0 for its elasticity measurement (force). Top marks! It offers uncompromising freedom of movement and has no annoying seams, meaning the garment acts almost like a second skin.

More information about uvex suXXeed ESD seamless shirt

#3 uvex 1 G2 safety shoes

In the area of foot protection, the new uvex 1 G2 has made it into the i-gonomics product system with a relief index of 4.03. Its low weight (weight) and comfortable shock absorption (force) prevent premature fatigue in the wearer, while the shoe’s breathable and hygienic properties conduct moisture outwards to regulate the climate within the shoe effectively (climate).

More information about uvex 1 G2 safety shoes

#4 uvex phynomic airLite A ESD

The new uvex phynomic airLite A ESD provides wearers with a high level of sensitivity (force) for the work they do. The touchscreen-compatible glove achieves a relief index of 4.07, thanks mainly to its low weight (weight) and excellent hand climate management (climate).

More information about uvex phynomic airLite ESD safety gloves

The uvex phynomic Wet Safety Glove brings Great Relief from Dermatitis for Machine Setter

“I can’t praise the phynomic gloves enough. They are the best. I would buy them myself for outside of work and use them for everything, including DIY. I really rate them.”

The product

Schutzhandschuh uvex phynomic wet Produktbild

uvex phynomic wet

Article number: 60060

  • good grip on wet and oily substances
  • certified to EN 388:2016 4131
  • doesn’t disintegrate easily
  • free of harmful substances

TO THE PRODUKT

The challenges

Barry, a CNC machinist, had been suffering badly with painful contact dermatitis brought on by exposure to industrial lubrication as part of his job as a computer numeric controlled (CNC) machinist, using precision machinery to manufacture automotive parts. He has been an engineer for 40 years and at his current job for two and a half years.

The lubricant is used when tools are put into the machine – machine setting – and, in spray form, for cooling the machine to help counteract friction during the manufacturing process.

Nitrile disposable gloves were provided to employees, but in most cases were not being worn because they make the hand sweat. These gloves were only habitually being used in extreme cases to protect the hands from oils.

In addition, workers often caught their hands when setting the machines and handling newly-machined non-deburred components that can cause light cuts to the fingers.

Barry had tried a myriad of gloves, many at his own expense, but was becoming increasingly uncomfortable and distressed by the pain in his fingers resulting from dermatitis.

Statistics

According to the HSE, most cases of work-related skin disease are contact dermatitis caused by exposure to allergens or irritants. Occupations with the highest rates include florists, hairdressers, beauticians, cooks and certain manufacturing and health-care related jobs.1

There are an estimated 17,000 people in work in the UK with skin problems they regard as caused by, or made worse, by work. Over the last five years, there were an estimated 7,000 new cases of self-reported skin problems each year that were caused or made worse by work 1, although this figure is thought to be vastly under-reported.

According to the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, occupational skin disorders (OSDs) including dermatitis will affect 40% of industrial workers at some point in their working life.2

OSDs are amongst the most significant health and safety issues facing industry. They threaten health, safety and efficiency in the workplace and the mental and physical wellbeing of affected workers.

Machine oils, oil-based substances, greases, solvents and lubricants can cause occupational skin disease. Metal working machine operating is one of the occupations that has a much higher dermatitis incidence rate than others at 43.7 cases per 100,000 workers per year1 Exposure to these substances must be avoided.

Occupational skin diseases are estimated to cost the EU EUR 600 million each year, resulting in around 3 million lost working days.3

Research suggests that on average, each reported case of dermatitis costs an employer £6,000 (6.900 €), whilst the average cost of each case of an unreported hand health problem costs an employer £2,000 (2.300 €). 4

Before using uvex phynomic gloves

Barry reports that his fingers were itchy, burning hot, and blistering “The blisters would burst”, he says, “and my hands would become really sore and infected.”

This situation, which had lasted more than seven months, had a huge impact on his life, both in and outside of work, and seriously affected both his physical and mental health.

“Physically, it made me unable to do my job at times, as the pain in my fingers was unbearable,” he recalls.

He had visited his doctor many times and became very depressed because of the pain, and the frustration he felt because his fingers were so awful. He is receiving treatment for this depression. To alleviate his symptoms, Barry had bought and tried a large number of gloves, plus had tried barrier creams, cotton undergloves and latex gloves, but nothing helped.

Although he was quite ill due to the steroids he was taking for the pain, Barry still went to work, taking only a couple of days off when his distress was particularly bad. “I had just been coming to work and suffering,” he recalls.

The uvex solution

One of uvex’s sales managers was invited in to the company to try to help. He recommended that Barry trial the uvex phynomic wet glove, which features a highly breathable aqua-polymer coating ideal for wet and oily conditions, to replace the nitrile disposable gloves.

The phynomic offers superior protection, precision, breathability, comfort and cost-in-use savings against the disposable gloves and ensures excellent grip in slightly oily applications.

Schutzhandschuh uvex phynomic wet Produktbild

Certified to EN 388:2016 4131, the phynomic wet has very high abrasion and, perhaps most importantly in Barry’s case, boasts excellent skin tolerance, confirmed by the proDERM Institute for Applied Dermatological Research, which ensures that the coating is also pure and is kind on the skin so that wearers are less likely to experience any allergic reactions.

The phynomic is certified free of harmful substances in accordance with OEKO-TEX® Standard 100 and conforms to the uvex Pure Standard.

What happened

Barry started to trial the uvex phynomic gloves in December 2018 and saw a vast improvement in all his symptoms almost immediately.

“These gloves have been ideal for my requirements,” he enthuses. “They have helped to eradicate the symptoms of my dermatitis.”

He experienced an improvement in comfort, sweat control, grip, durability and overall performance. The gloves improved his skin condition so much that he also wears them out of work for driving, DIY at home, or just about anything.

“I keep them on virtually all day and only take them off when I go to bed,” he says. “They are really good gloves.”

“I saw an improvement almost instantly,” says Barry. “Straight away I noticed they were more flexible and more comfortable than previous gloves and I was able to work and use my measuring equipment without pain.”

The gloves gave extra protection against machine cuts and his grip was also enhanced compared to previous gloves, a very important factor when setting his machines. “They have definitely made a big difference.”

“I can’t praise them enough,” he continues. “I had been buying anti-cut and other gloves myself but the phynomic is the best. I would buy them myself for outside of work and use them for everything, including DIY. I really rate them. They have enabled me to do my job.”