ESD essentials: choosing the right ESD glovesadmin
Cleanrooms and manufacturing work requires a number of different safety procedures in order to protect both the workers and the products being handled from potential dangers like electrostatic discharge. One of the cornerstone elements of cleanroom and manufacturing safety is the use of electrostatic discharge (ESD) gloves.
The Basics of ESD Gloves
The ultimate goal of an ESD glove is to minimize the amount of static electricity in a particular work environment, such as when handling sensitive electronics or working on a gas line.
However, many ESD manufacturers specify that a glove is intended for either handling or assembly. A glove intended for handling is made in such a way that it protects the operator’s hands, whereas assembly gloves shield sensitive products from contamination and damage.
ESD gloves should be considered as mandatory safety equipment for working in most laboratory, cleanroom, biotec, and electronic works. However, ESD gloves must be used in conjunction with a grounding wrist strap in order to ensure the absolute lowest possibility of electrostatic discharge.
ESD Glove Materials
ESD gloves come in many different forms and fashions, all of which affect the ultimate purpose and price of the glove. In terms of materials, gloves are typically made from:
- Latex is by far the cheapest and most commonly used material for ESD gloves. Their primary disadvantage is that they cannot be used by people with latex allergies.
- Vinyl, while a suitable option for workers allergic to latex, is not as puncture-resistant or as durable as latex.
- Nitrile gloves are durable, inherently anti-static, and extremely puncture-resistant. As they are made from synthetic latex, they can be used by all workers regardless of latex allergies. However, nitrile gloves tend to be more expensive than vinyl or latex.
- Fabric offers the ability to re-use gloves, which can translate into significant cost savings over disposable gloves.
It should be noted that different glove materials can be dangerous to use with certain chemicals; for instance, although nitrile gloves are durable and avoid latex allergy issues, they are not suitable for use with ketons and aeromatic solvents. Thus, your exact work environment may require the presence of two or more types of gloves in order to offer the maximum amount of protection to both employees and products.
Some manufacturers also provide their clean room employees with finger cots. These tiny coverings come in a variety of materials, and offer greater dexterity than using fullsize gloves. However, finger cots should only be used in circumstances where no hand tools are to be utilized by workers.
How to Choose ESD Gloves
When selecting an ESD glove solution for your company, it’s important keep five factors in mind:
- Employee safety needs, particularly with regards to any latex allergies
- Common chemicals used in the work environment, and how they may affect glove use
- Overall purpose of the glove (assembly versus handling)
- A glove’s maximum electrical resistance
- Cost of new gloves over time
Your glove vendor will be able to give you guidance on selecting the best gloves for your particular company or department. That being said, it’s important to consult with all the teams that will be using the glove, including manufacturing, R&D, engineering, and quality control departments.
More Than Just Gloves: We Offer ESD Solutions For Companies of All Sizes
Antistat is the #1 supplier of ESD and production consumables worldwide. We offer a wide variety of ESD gloves that can fit any kind of need or budget. To see how we can help your company increase efficiency and safety, take a look our full range of products, or give us a call at 512-865-4082. We look forward to helping you find the very best solution for your ESD and production needs.