How much voltage protection is needed for safety gloves used in electrical work?
The first defense against most hazards, safety gloves can protect against everything from cuts to chemical burns. When it comes to electrical work, you can’t be too careful given the chances of electrical shock, arc flash, or arc blast injuries (learn more about the dangers of electrical work in Electricity in the Workplace: The Silent Killer). OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) requires workers to wear electrical insulating gloves for any work that comes in over 50 volts, though there are varying levels of protection available depending on the maximum voltage involved on the job.
So, how do you select the right gloves?
First, assess whether you are dealing with a low-voltage application or high-voltage situation to determine what class of gloves your workers require. For example, Class 0 gloves are proof tested to 5,000 volts AC and are approved for max use voltage of 1,000 volts AC, while Class 2 gloves are proof tested to 20,000 volts AC and are approved for a max use voltage of 17,000 volts AC (consider your equipment too, read Why You Should Give More Thought to Rubber Insulating Equipment).
One last note, rubber insulating gloves provide protection from electrical shock. These gloves are also required to be worn with leather protector gloves over the rubber to protect the rubber from the physical hazards of the task. For example, electrical wires can be sharp and could puncture the rubber glove.
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