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Working on live electrical connections is essential, but very dangerous. The personnel working on such connections must take precautions to protect themselves from electric shocks and other hazards. Chief among the precautionary measures is the use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment. In many cases of electrical accidents, people get injured because of choosing the wrong type or dysfunctional equipment.

Electrical insulation gloves are an important article of protection against electrical injuries and fatalities. There are quite a few considerations to keep in mind before purchasing these gloves. For instance, they must be tested for functionality and must adhere to international standards. The type of the glove is an important parameter and must depend on the function the personnel will be using it for. The voltage of the electrical units handled by the personnel is also a major parameter in the selection of the glove. All that and, the gloves should be comfortable and an overall good fit for the wearer.

Electric Glove System

Electric gloves basically comprise two parts that together form a glove system. The rubber-insulating glove is the inner part and is classified by the kind of voltage and protection they provide, while the leather protector gloves are worn over the rubber insulating gloves. The leather protector gloves provide protection against cuts and punctures.

Choosing The Type Of Leather

The outer gloves layer i.e. the leather protector gloves are made from various parts of different animals, depending on the type of usage. Cowhide, Goatskin and Deerskin are the common types of leathers used as outer protector gloves.

  • Cowhide: This is the most common type due to its easy availability and excellent durability.
  • Goatskin: This skin offers more resistance and protection as compared to Pigskin and Cowhide. Goatskin has the greatest tensile strength amongst all the types.
  • Deerskin: This type is soft and supple and when exposed to water, it remains soft and flexible even after drying.

Classification Of Gloves

Electrical safety gloves are categorized depending on the level of voltage protection that they provide (both IEC and ASTM standards) and on whether they are Ozone resistant or not(applicable only for ASTM standard). There are 6 classes of gloves as classified by the voltage levels they are rated for:

  • Class 00: This class includes gloves for low voltage. Gloves are proof-tested at 2,500 volts for maximum use of 500 volts
  • Class 0: This class includes gloves for low voltage and the gloves are proof-tested at 5,000 volts for maximum use of 1,000 volts
  • Class 1: This class includes gloves for high voltage. Gloves are proof-tested at 10,000 volts for maximum use of 7,500 volts
  • Class 2: This class includes gloves for high voltage and the gloves are proof-tested at 20,000 volts for maximum use of 17,000 volts
  • Class 3: This class includes gloves for high voltage and the gloves are proof-tested at 30,000 volts for maximum use of 26,500 volts
  • Class 4: This class includes gloves for high voltage. The gloves are proof-tested at 40,000 volts for maximum use of 36,000 volts

Size Of The Over Glove

Regarding the size of the gloves, make sure that you select the same size for the rubber insulating and leather protection gloves. In case of the length, the cuff of the rubber insulation glove should be longer than the leather protection glove. The class of the glove specifies by just how much. For Class 0, and Class 00 the difference is ½’ inch lengths, while for Class 1, Class 2, Class 3 and Class 4, the difference is 1’ inch length, 2’ inch length, 3’ inch length and 4’ inch length respectively.

Standards To Follow For Electrical Safety Gloves

When it comes to Personal Protection Equipment, there are particular standards that are to be followed to make ensure that the PPE are tested and safe to be used. The CE standard is the most commonly used worldwide standard. The CE mark stands for conformity with the European Standards and guarantees that the equipment meets the safety standards.

There are various performance standards to identify which work glove is safe and fit for a particular environment. Some of the tests and standards under CE for Electrical Gloves are:

  • EN 388 – Mechanical Properties Test
  • EN 420 – General Glove Requirements Test
  • EN 60903 – High Voltage Gloves

Precautions While Using Electrical Safety Gloves

In cases where different types and classes of gloves are being used on the same site, workers may be in too much of a hurry to select the right set of gloves for their respective jobs. It’s important to label the different gloves being used according to their type and classification. Adding signage near the area or locker where the gloves and other PPE are stored is a good way of reminding the workers about the right gear for their respective jobs.

Another thing that the users should keep in mind is to wear all the relevant components of the glove system. Rubber insulating gloves protect the wearer from the electrical voltage while an outer leather layer protects the wearer from other physical hazards.

Testing & Inspection

The most important thing to consider while selecting the electrical gloves is that they must comply with all the international and national safety standards. Once the gloves pass that, it is important to field test the equipment time and again before using them. The approach for testing and inspection of electrical gloves varies with each facility and conditions. For example, exposure to direct sunlight could decrease the insulating powers of the gloves. As an aside, this is why it’s necessary that gloves be stored in a cool and dry place.

It is important that the personnel using the electrical gloves examine the gloves for punctures and other defects regularly. They could do this by simply inflating the gloves with air and then, holding the gloves against their hand to check if any trapped air is being released through a puncture that was missed during visual inspection. Some manufacturers make this process easier by providing two different colors in their gloves. The personnel can easily spot the color change in the outer glove against the inner one, in case the outer glove gets damaged.

Mandatory Testing Cycle

Rubber insulating gloves must be tested prior to the first issue and every six months after that. If the insulating gloves have been electrically tested but have not been used then they must not be used unless the electrical testing has taken place within the last 12 months. An alternative method is the glove color program to ensure that the gloves are in the proper test cycle. This program chooses two colors, one for the first six-month period of the test cycle and another for the next period.


As mentioned earlier, it is important to store the electrical gloves in a cool and dry place for the maximum continued utility. Make sure that the gloves are kept away when not being used. Also, make sure the gloves are folded and kept away from direct sunlight, ozone, humidity, and any hazardous chemicals. Make sure to test the electrical gloves in case they haven’t been used for a long period of time and, even if they look visually fine.

In conclusion, it’s a no-brainer that working with electricity can be extremely dangerous. But, with the right kind of electrical gloves and other protective equipment, these dangers and hazards can be minimized, even if not completely eliminated. What’s most important is to make sure that the appropriate PPE is selected, kept in the best way possible, and retested from time to time.

It’s always better to be safe than sorry!



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